Journal of Urology Open Plus - Revolutionizing Access and Innovation in Urology Research - John W. Davis

May 23, 2023

John Davis, Professor of Urology, discusses the new Journal of Urology Open Plus with Phillip Koo. The journal aims to provide fully gold open access, making research freely accessible to all. It addresses the need for easily accessible research, especially for publicly funded projects. The concept of cascading allows submissions to be considered across multiple journals within the AUA. The focus is on innovation and academic-oriented content, with room for health services research videos and rare conditions. The success of the journal relies on timely reviews from diverse experts in the urologic community. The digital platform allows for enhanced information sharing, including video abstracts and supplemental data. 


John W. Davis, MD, FACS, Urologist, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston TX

Phillip J. Koo, MD, FACS Division Chief of Diagnostic Imaging at the Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center in Arizona.

Read the Full Video Transcript

Phillip Koo: Hi, my name is Phillip Koo and welcome to AUA 2023 here in Chicago. We're very fortunate to have with us today Dr. John Davis, Professor of Urology from the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Thank you for joining us.

John Davis: Great to be here. Thanks.

Phillip Koo: So you are the inaugural editor for a new journal called Journal of Urology Open Plus that's part of the AUA. Can you tell us a little bit about this journal and the need that brought this to fruition?

John Davis: Yeah, a new journal can have a number of purposes and so you almost have to think about them one at a time. One purpose in particular, as the name implies, is this is a fully gold journal open access format. So all papers are freely accessible to anyone with internet and it's digital. So that has been under the works worldwide, not only in the health sciences, but in the life sciences as well. Some of it derived out of the concept that when there's publicly funded research, the results should not be hard to find in a traditional subscription model where people have to pay for access. A lot of us in the states have, if you work, I work at a big University of Texas site so I can get behind paywalls pretty easily, but not everyone can, especially overseas. So it's been on the mind of AUA for about two or three years as they've listened to the various experts in the publishing field.

And so that became one of their business ventures for expanding. Other purposes include sort of growing the concept of... The voice of urology is sort of the marketing theme behind publications where you really have four now. So one of the other changes since our journal is AUA News will now have a full-time editor and I always say that's not a traditional peer reviewed concept. It is a large newsletter for the AUA topics, but then you've got Urology Practice, which actually just got notification of indexing after many years of working on that. And then our journal, which is brand new and then of course Journal of Urology is over a hundred years old at this point. So that gives rise to the concept of cascading where you can submit to any of the journals and if it's a good fit, it'll get published. If not, we'll consider cascading it to one of the others if we think it would fit better there.

And then another concept I would just introduce is anytime you have a new journal, sometimes you can look at the portfolio of publications and just ask like, "What's missing or what can we do differently?" So in addition to, if you have a standard original article or review, we have room for that of course, but we have focused areas and editorial board experts on health services research videos as a manuscript, is something that many other journals have tried and AUA has never done that. And we have a section on rare conditions. And then a clinical trial section obviously would love to get anything randomized that's done well. But it also can be a place where you could put a null hypothesis paper, maybe a protocol or a paper that didn't fully accrue or in a previous journal I worked with, a common theme would be secondary endpoints.

Here's the primary, but then here's some of the other endpoints or exploratory hypotheses that came out of the work. Anytime you've done a randomized trial, one of the benefits of that is it's usually a funded effort. It's got trial monitors, research nurses. The data is very valuable in the sense of the integrity of it all. So if you were a trial PI, you obviously want to get as many useful publications out as you can. So yeah.

Phillip Koo: That's really interesting and I think we went through a lot there. One piece I'd like to talk about is this idea of open access and I think it's gotten sort of this bad rap and I love hearing this, not new concept, but this concept that this information needs to be widely available. And I think a lot of times when we go through training and practice being part of large institutions, we don't realize that access to these journal articles is challenging. So to make this a freely available I think is wonderful for the whole world. You touched upon a lot of different areas that it's sort of meeting these new needs. Cascading was very interesting and trials, null hypotheses. Maybe if we could start off with cascading, how do you envision that working for the author submitting a paper? How would that work? Can you walk us through that?

John Davis: Well, it's something that the editorial board members have to continually discuss and coach each other on because they have to kind of submit that. So the traditional cascade might start with Journal of Urology and maybe they think it's interesting, and scientifically sound, but in a sort of flagship ultra-competitive journal that's only publishing about 8% of submissions, 10... Well, I think it's under 10% actually. They are certainly going to encounter scientifically sound content that's just not high enough priority for them to accept. So they'll just say, "This looks like a good fit for one of the other journals." And we've actually had to keep continually discuss this because some papers you could make arguments, it could go here or there. Probably the best description that one of our leaders thought up was is really open plus is sort of an academic extension of the Journal of Urology.

So it is meant to be innovative, very academic oriented. Urology practice is more about the practice of urology and has its own unique sections such as healthcare policy, education, et cetera. But some papers are clearly going to have some overlapping abilities and we just have to try to work that out with the authors. So from a structural standpoint, you would submit, you would get an answer from the journal saying, "All right, you weren't accepted here, but we think you're a good fit for this journal." And then you have to accept that transfer. Now what will happen automatically is that any reviews that occurred already with the first review would also transfer with the paper. So, I mean, I actually recently had a submission from JU with three sets of full reviews and the authors were smart. They not only transferred it to our journal, but they actually revised it first. So it was kind of a rare instance where they were ready to go.

Phillip Koo: And no additional reviews at that point?

John Davis: I could have, but they did such a great job responding. I think it was ready, but you certainly could. And the other option would've been maybe get one person off the board to look at the first set of reviews, bring their expertise and then decide do we need to do more of this or not.

Phillip Koo: That's great. So from what I'm hearing, the scope and the focuses of the various journals will stay the same, but Journal of Urology Open Plus just creates this extension for Journal of Urology, which is great to be able to get more of that information out to the wider public. The final question I have is what are some of the needs or requests that you have for the urologic community in order to help ensure the success of this journal moving forward, which just launched, I believe, in January of this year?

John Davis: Yeah. Last year was a planning year. At the AUA last year I was mostly recruiting board members and then we could accept some transfers in the fall. And then the first issue went in January. Well, obviously like any new journal you want it to be kind of a rapid review cycle. So we definitely want members of the academic community to help us with reviews and be timely and reliable. The board members are there to move that along and grow that. And we talked about this just today with AUA editors workshop. We're always looking for diversity in who reviews the papers, not the same experts over and over and over again, but new faces with new expertise and training.

Again, some papers could go multiple directions. I think some of the table of contents, areas of emphasis, for us are unique and I think there's room to be creative in where you put content. As a specific example, we had a video as an abstract, the first one that's going to go live, and actually the authors had submitted two videos, but really on the same concept. It was on gender-affirming surgery. And so we just wrote back and said, "Look, this is a video. There's not a strict time limit. Let's just make one video on different types of revision surgeries in this space." And so that got done and then when it went for the second round of peer review, one of the authors or reviewers just had more questions about the patient background, that kind of thing. So you don't have to recut the whole video to answer those questions.

You can actually have supplemental data. You can just write a Word document and say, "Look, if you want to read more about the patient characteristics or the imaging..." And that can just sit on the website as supplemental materials. Because the way the video abstract work is there's still a PubMed indexable abstract that formats just like any paper, but then the paper is the video. But then you can attach a transcript of the video or a protocol or however you want. So the digital platform gives us new ways to house even more information than a straight printed 2,500 word traditional paper that has to get physically printed and bound and shipped everywhere.

Phillip Koo: Well, that's wonderful. It's great seeing this innovation in journals, which are obviously very important to our field in science and medicine. So, congratulations. Thank you for joining us and we wish you and the AUA and the Journal of Urology Open Plus the best.

John Davis: All right. Thank you.