On May 14, 2014, the National Sleep Foundation issued a press release announcing its intent to publish its official journal, Sleep Health with a focus on “better understanding the health benefits of sleep.”1 While this is a laudable goal, one might ask the question, “do we need another sleep journal?” As the founding editor of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine (JCSM), I asked a similar question in an editorial published in 2004 before our inaugural issue.2 At that time, I contended that there was a need for an additional publication because SLEEP was receiving an increasing number of meritorious publications that it could not publish. Is this same argument valid today?
In the interval since the JCSM began publishing, the number of journals focused primarily on some aspect of Sleep Medicine or sleep science has markedly increased. Moreover, a number of other specialty journals also publish a large number of sleep-related papers. In my progress report earlier this year, I noted that there were at least 15 sleep journals, an increase of 9 in the last decade.3 Although the fields of Sleep Medicine and the science of sleep have grown substantially with new knowledge and novel therapies appearing rapidly over the past 10 years, I doubt whether this expansion justifies the existence of all these journals. Why has this occurred? Inasmuch as virtually all of these publications are “fee to publish” electronic publications, the cynic in me believes that the profit motive is a major driving force. Whether any of these new journals will achieve academic relevance remains to be determined. Some only publish a few articles a year. Others routinely send mass emails to investigators soliciting papers. Most are not listed on the major scientific indexes. Therefore, scientists and clinicians will have difficulty locating papers published by these journals, perhaps providing a real world test of the philosophical quandry, “if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
Another important issue inherent with journal proliferation is the adequacy of peer review. Timely, high quality peer review is the bain of all journal editors including myself. There are a limited number of qualified volunteers to perform this function. The presence of more journals only makes this task more difficult.
I wish the National Sleep Foundation well in its newest endeavor. However, will this be a journal that fulfills a need or a journal that is looking for a need? This will be determined by the passage of time and the competition.
Quan SF. Another sleep journal? A reprise in 2014. J Clin Sleep Med 2014;10(7):717.