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  • 1 Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands

There are scientific presentations you’ll never forget. For me, one of these was at the 2002 annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine by the eminent exercise physiologist Professor Brian J. Whipp. Beside the fact that it was a pleasure to listen to his command of the English language, he made a lasting impression with his Why—How—What—So what scheme for scientific publications. As editor in chief of the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance (IJSPP), this scheme remains central to my work.

Only about half of manuscripts submitted to IJSPP are usually sent to the associate editors to enter into the peer-review process. For the last 4 years, during my term as editor in chief, I always started the evaluation procedure with the Why. I wanted to understand the purpose of the study and to find out whether the study triggered my curiosity and was likely to be of interest to the readership. The well-focused scope of IJSPP helped me to narrow my curiosity to research questions involving sport physiology and performance. I searched for what was already known and whether that led to the question of “what we need to know.” If a manuscript could not pique my curiosity, could not lay out what we already knew, and could not make a case for needing to know something useful or important, it was very unlikely to make it into the review process.

The How and What sections of the manuscript (the methods and results) got less of my attention relative to deciding whether to advance the manuscript into the review process, but the So What part got full consideration. In the discussion of the manuscript, the value of the findings relevant for direct application in enhancing sport performance and related disciplines needed to be clear. This aspect sets IJSPP apart from other journals in our field and needs to be clearly evident in the manuscript. When the manuscript successfully passed this scheme, “the Whipp criteria,” I handed it over to the associate editors for further review. The group of associate editors for IJSPP has a large of diversity of expertise across sports and scientific domains, so selecting an associate editor was mostly based on the specifics of the manuscript, moderated by the current workload of the associate editors.

I performed this procedure with great pleasure almost 4000 times in the last 4 years. This would not have been possible without the help and inspiration of the great IJSPP editorial team. I started my responsibilities as editor in chief following the work that David Pyne, Carl Foster, and Ralph Beneke had already done to position IJSPP as a Q1 journal. I felt very anxious to follow in their footsteps, but I think that with their continuing help, the process has been successful. The day-to-day cooperation of Editorial Assistant Dionne Noordhof was a great pleasure and help in mastering the editorial work, particularly as the challenge of managing nearly 1000 manuscripts per year is substantial. Finally, Julia Glahn, our managing editor in the Human Kinetics office, is the one who keeps all of the editors pulling in the same direction. The role of editor in chief of IJSPP would be impossible without her. I would like to thank the editorial team for the trust placed in me over the last 4 years, and I am confident that the next editor in chief, Øyvind Sandbakk, will continue the success of IJSPP in the next 4.

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