It is quite an honor to be writing this editorial as the new editor of JEE. Before I share my future plans for the Journal, I would like to highlight some of the accomplishments over the past . Under the leadership of editor Mark Rood, JEE reviewed over 600 new submissions with an average acceptance of 54% in 2003 and 2004. As the new editor of JEE, I am learning that directing this enterprise is a daunting task. This realization is a testament to the competence of our previous editor. In short, Mark made it look easy.
During his tenure as editor, Mark improved JEE in many areas. Given the wide range of topics covered in the submitted manuscripts, Mark expanded the reviewer database to broaden the technical expertise available to the associate editors. As a result, the quality of multidisciplinary reviews significantly improved.
Of the improvements that were implemented over the past , the most notable was the transformation of JEE from a hardcopy to a paperless submission and review journal. Given that JEE is ASCE’s second largest journal, this was no simple task. Mark dedicated countless hours to this conversion and the results are impressive. Instrumental in the success of the transformation was additional financial support from the ASCE Board Publications Committee.
Overall, the status of the Journal is good, with an Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) ranking of 14 out of 73 journals of civil engineering in 2003, 5 out of 21 for ASCE journals, and a 15 out of 35 ranking for environmental engineering journals. Improving our ranking in all areas was a topic of discussion and strategic planning at the JEE editor’s meeting in September.
One of the most important issues facing our Journal that must be addressed quickly is the long waiting period for final manuscript publication in JEE. Currently, there is an 11-month waiting period after final acceptance until publication. Mark was successful in lobbying ASCE for an increase in journal pages for 2005. With the additional page allocation and raising the standards for acceptance to the Journal, the lengthy time to publication should be reduced.
Following Mark’s lead, I hope to streamline the paperless submission and review process by improving user-friendly aspects of the online review submission. Another area of focus will be to shorten the length of time required for assignment of reviewers. Currently, the editor is responsible for assigning reviewers to a manuscript. This is a time consuming and occasionally frustrating process. Since the associate editors are chosen for a specific area of technical expertise, they are uniquely qualified to select reviewers. Therefore, I plan to provide the associate editors with online access to the reviewer database. This change in protocol should significantly decrease the time required for manuscript review.
Publication of special issues was an important area of growth for the Journal over the past . While Mark was editor of JEE, four special issues were published on timely topics of interest to our readers. I also want to encourage publication of special issues (three are in the planning phase at this time), while insuring that our waiting period for accepted manuscript publication is not negatively impacted. In addition to research and review articles, I hope to encourage short application articles from practitioners to be an integral part of the special issues.
In closing, the JEE editorial board would like to thank Mark for his dedication and commitment during his tenure as editor. The Journal has benefited greatly from his leadership. The future of JEE is bright. Our Journal has an excellent group of new and experienced associate editors, and I am looking forward to the challenge of serving as editor. Comments about the journal content are welcome. Suggestions can be submitted formally through editorials, discussions, closures, and forums, or informally by an e-mail or phone call.