Journal of Physical Activity and Health’s 2021 in Review

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From January 1 to December 31, 2021, the Journal of Physical Activity and Health (JPAH) received 819 article submissions. I sincerely want to thank these research teams for choosing JPAH as the potential home for their science. When I started my term as the Editor-in-Chief of the journal, my team and I made a commitment to the physical activity and health community: to speed up the peer review process and make it comparable with the best scientific journals in the world.

Of the 819 articles, 581 were desk rejected: half of them within 1 day after submission. For only 5% of the articles desk rejected, the response took 5 or more days. The goal here was to allow authors of unaccepted articles to quickly find another venue for their science. Most of these decisions were mine and took into consideration JPAH’s editorial priorities and the methodological quality of each submission.

Of the 193 articles that proceeded to peer review, 48% ended up being rejected after peer review, 36% requested major revisions, and only 16% requested minor revisions. On average, authors whose work was peer reviewed received the first decision 39 days after submission; unfortunately, 10% received the first decision more than 3 months after submission. Now, I want you to reflect on a striking number: 13. That number represents the average number of reviewers we had to invite, per paper, to secure at least 2 reviewers.

Another commitment we made to our community was to “go global.” We approached this commitment through several pathways. First, our board of Senior Associate Editors now includes 9 researchers from all over the world. Second, we are finalizing the process of restructuring the editorial board, and, again, “going global” is a fundamental part of the strategy. Our major achievement in pursuing this objective was the proportion of submissions we received from all parts of the world. Of the 819 submissions, 32% came from North America, 20% from South America, 19% from Europe, 12% from South and Western Asia, 9% from Eastern Asia, 6% from Oceania or Southeast Asia, and 2% from Africa. There is obvious room for improvement, but the investment in “going global” is clearly already paying off.

During 2021, JPAH’s impact factor increased from 1.993 to 2.592. This rise reflects the excellent work done by our former Editor-in-Chief, Dr Loretta DiPietro, and her team. On the fun side, Prof DiPietro certainly has the best story to tell. In 2021, one of her submissions to JPAH ended up being desk rejected. The rejection letter she received featured the very text she drafted some years ago.

Although some progress has been made regarding JPAH’s presence in traditional and social media, we plan to be more aggressive in our approach from 2022 onward. We need to make sure that the science of physical activity and health helps build a more active world, and that goal will only be achieved if our research is widely shared. We will continue to work with the International Society of Physical Activity and Health to spread the word that physical activity is crucial for individual and collective health.

In the end, a scientific journal is a result of people’s work. Therefore, I would like to acknowledge the fantastic work done by Doug Hoepker and the Human Kinetics team, Emily Cox, the Senior Associate Editors, the members of the Editorial Board, the peer reviewers, and mainly by the authors who decided to share their science with JPAH. It has been a privilege to work with you all, and I look forward to what 2022 will bring.

Hallal (prchallal@gmail.com) is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Physical Activity and Health. He is with the School of Physical Education, Federal University of Pelotas, Brazil.

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