In January, the American Society of Hematology (ASH) plans to launch two peer-reviewed, open-access journals: Blood Neoplasia and Blood Vessels, Thrombosis & Hemostasis (VTH).
Readers may understandably wonder whether the hematology community needs new journals. In all candor, it’s something I had wondered about myself. After all, a quick Google search of “hematology journals” yields more than three dozen results. But if you consider the rapidly changing landscape of scholarly publishing, the answer is a resounding and unqualified yes.
There is a bit of the Wild, Wild West in academic publishing these days. There has been an alarming rise in the number of predatory journals, which present themselves as legitimate scholarly journals but often mislead authors and misrepresent their editorial and publishing practices, placing profit over scientific integrity. In that environment, accuracy and quality can fall to the wayside. Bottom line: The number of journals covering any one field tells only part of the story.
Environmental pressures are pushing journals toward open access. By the end of 2025, all federal agency heads must implement policies that will ensure taxpayer-funded research be “publicly accessible (open access), without an embargo or cost,” according to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Many publishing entities will be pressured to publish quantity over quality to replace the anticipated decline in institutional subscriptions when an open-access mandate is in place from funders as nearly all growth (in terms of revenue) will be via open access.
While open access has many benefits, it poses risks, especially in the biomedical sciences, where accuracy and reliability are of paramount importance. One of the primary risks of open-access publishing is a decrease in the quality and reproducibility of published research. With traditional publishing models, manuscripts undergo rigorous peer review to ensure quality and accuracy of the science. However, many open-source journals lack rigorous peer review. In fact, some journals almost never reject a manuscript, leading to poor quality and/or non-reproducible data.
That’s where the value of ASH comes into sharp focus. The Society’s peer-reviewed journals — Blood and Blood Advances — have well-earned reputations for publishing high-quality research findings that further knowledge. The ASH Executive Committee’s decision to expand its family of journals will give authors additional high-quality publishing options associated with the esteemed ASH brand.
Perhaps more importantly, readers will benefit, knowing that the content the new journals publish will be subject to the same thoughtful rigor and scrutiny that is a hallmark of ASH’s publishing process. Let’s not forget that the COVID-19 pandemic unleashed a torrent of attacks on medical science. Adhering to exacting review standards for published material is crucial if we are to bolster trust in our field.
There are other compelling reasons to launch these journals. Chief among them is that funding for hematology research has been on the upswing. For example, between 2017 and 2022, funding from the National Institutes of Health for hematology research increased by 18%.
There is growth in research in fields such as hematologic malignancies and thrombosis and hemostasis, along with advances in gene therapy and artificial intelligence. Unless it takes decisive steps now, ASH will not be able to provide a home for this ever-increasing volume of scientific literature in hematology. Additional subspecialty peer-review journals will allow ASH to maintain its role as the premier publisher of such research.
I’m not naïve enough to think there won’t be growing pains. I remember the launch of Blood Advances in 2016 was met with some trepidation. Yet today it is a journal that an increasing number of authors actively pursue for publication, even as the editorial pipeline for Blood remains robust and highly selective.
I expect the same will be true as ASH launches Blood Neoplasia and Blood VTH. We will enrich the hematology field with cutting-edge content of scientific integrity, a move that ultimately benefits the patients we serve.
I encourage you to learn more about the journals at the 65th ASH Annual Meeting in December in San Diego, where members will have the opportunity to meet with the new editors-in-chief. At the time of this writing, ASH was nearing the end of a highly competitive selection process, and I look forward to the announcement of our two new editors-in-chief..
It’s an exciting time for ASH and the hematology community at large. There is growing interest in our work, and ASH is positioning itself to stay ahead of the changing dynamics in scholarly publishing so that we continue to shine a light on the very best of what we do.