JTEHM: The EMB Journey to Open Access

JTEHM: The EMB Journey to Open Access 150 150 IEEE Pulse

The ultimate goal of engineering in medicine and biology (EMB) researchers is to improve medical care for patients and communities all over the world by providing a collaborative environment for engineer–scientists and clinicians. In order for this collaboration to occur, however, there must be a widely indexed platform that promotes communication among researchers across a spectrum of nations, both economically developed and underdeveloped, and between engineer–scientists and clinicians who are less likely to have access to IEEE Xplore. In response to this need, the EMB Society (EMBS) created the Journal of Translational Engineering in Health and Medicine (JTEHM), its first Gold Open Access (OA) journal. At its inception in 2012, JTEHM outlined a bold, comprehensive objective: Our unique mission—to bring together scientific researchers, practicing clinicians, and engineers to develop actionable, practical solutions for patients, families, and caregivers—requires open communication and free access.

One form of free access is Gold OA. Gold OA facilitates unrestricted access by enabling authors to retain the copyright of their work. Thus, OA enables rapid and timely dissemination, thereby broadening access by a variety of stakeholders, including students, professionals, and academicians—to name just a few across the globe. While OA publications must charge a nominal fee to support costs of publication, manuscripts undergo rigorous peer review no less stringent than any other IEEE publication that follows a traditional subscription model. Yet unlike Gold OA, copyright for traditional published work is transferred to the society or journal, and a hefty fee is paid by institutions, e.g., universities, or at the point of access, per online download by an individual.

JTEHM as a Gold OA publication has achieved an unprecedented integration of engineers with clinicians and health care practitioners. Informed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Center for Advancing Translational Science, the focus of the journal is to designate articles in accordance with their contributions on the translational science spectrum. More specifically, each published article contains findings that fall along the path from “the biological basis of health and disease to interventions that improve the health of individuals and the public” [1]. Thus, key indicators of a strong JTEHM manuscript are the following: 1) does the contribution strive to meet an unmet clinical need through a technological solution (device, diagnostic, service, or platform), and 2) does the contribution describe the integration of the technological solution in the clinical workflow or health care setting.

To support JTEHM’s mission its editorial team reflects the interdisciplinary focus of the articles. Consistent with IEEE guidelines, a single Editor-in-Chief (EiC) oversees the journal. However, in contrast to conventional IEEE publications, a clinical editor supports the journal alongside the EiC to maintain the mission of the journal to publish work that impacts human health. In addition, a clinical editorial board composed of practicing clinicians underscores the commitment of the EMBS to developing a platform with a direct focus on human health. Lastly, members of the editorial board are a blend of experts in academic medicine, industry, and translational engineering to assure broad and thorough reviews with an emphasis on improving human health by pursuing unmet clinical needs. In summary, JTEHM articles report the necessary technical advancement to address and approach intervention to improve human health. In addition to the topical areas of JTEHM, indexing JTEHM articles in PubMed Central realized a natural integration with medical journals. Furthermore, this placed JTEHM alongside life science and biomedical topics while also adhering to the OA required by NIH-funded work.

To measure the impact of JTEHM on the research community over time, one conventional metric is the impact factor, which is calculated after the first three full years of publication. Briefly, the impact factor reflects the average number of citations to articles published and is calculated over a moving two-year window. JTEHM received its first impact factor in 2017 of 1.754. In 2018, JTEHM’s impact factor increased by 18% to 2.075. Since its inception JTEHM has received 657 original submissions, and published 284 articles with a cumulative acceptance rate of 43%.

JTEHM was one of IEEE’s first six fully OA journals. JTEHM brings to the IEEE EMBS a relatively long history with OA, a fully developed editorial and advisory board that is accustomed to the demands and faster turn-around times of the OA model, as well as maximum exposure for authors through its wide indexing and full compliance with Plan S. Briefly, Plan S is a powerful initiative supported by an international consortium of research funders. One goal of this effort is that “from 2021 scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants must be published in compliant OA journals or platforms” [2]. Plan S is both an opportunity and a challenge for EMBS to create a model that supports worldwide contributions, but at the same time provides for adaptability and flexibility. It is unrealistic to assume that the global translational community possesses equitable resources to support the OA fees that are integral to the Plan S model.

JTEHM is a trailblazer for two more recent IEEE EMBS Open Access journals: IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering (TNSRE), and IEEE Open Journal of Engineering in Biology and Medicine (OJEMB). Since its inception in 2001, TNSRE has maintained a focus on the rehabilitative and neural aspects of biomedical engineering and has offered a hybrid publishing scheme to authors: pay a fee for OA, or rely upon traditional subscriptions, or pay per download. In July 2020, TNSRE will evolve to a Gold OA publication and position itself well for the onset of Plan S. Another newcomer to Gold OA, OJEMB, seeks to capture an audience pursuing solutions to biological problems and health care.

As EMBS continues its mission to “provide an open forum for engineers, physicians, biologists, and other researchers, and health care policy makers to encourage innovation, continuous education, career development, and collaboration through networking, discussion and sharing cutting-edge technology,” OA is paramount and critical for global impact. Furthermore, now, more than ever, the world needs interdisciplinary teams supported by an accessible platform for scientific dissemination to solve the complex problems at hand. To achieve this goal, peer reviewers are the fuel that accelerates translation from inception to intervention through their impartial critique, assessment, and suggestions. Thus, each and every member of our global IEEE EMB community has the ability to advance the frontiers of science, policy, and infrastructure to achieve the EMBS mission in any capacity as a reader, author, or reviewer.


  1. Accessed: May 27, 2020. [Online]. Available: https://ncats.nih.gov/translation/spectrum#public-health
  2. Accessed: May 27, 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.coalition-s.org/