Last month, ASHG announced the launch of its new open access journal, Human Genetics and Genomic Advances (HGG Advances). The publication is now open for submissions, with a call for papers, the first of which will be published later in the year. Importantly, ASHG members will receive a 20% discount on the open access fee. This is one of many benefits for members, who also can also take advantage of no fees for article submission in ASHG’s other journal, the American Journal of Human Genetics (AJHG). ASHG members also receive free online access to AJHG. For more information on other benefits ASHG members receive, and to join our community, visit www.ashg.org/membership/.
According to Editor in Chief, Michael J. Bamshad, M.D., the field of human genetics is rapidly evolving and HGG Advances will serve as both a catalyst and a platform for change that feels natural for the human genetics community to embrace. We asked Dr. Bamshad a few questions about the new journal’s goals and focus areas.
ASHG: Why should members think about publishing their human genetics research in an open access journal? Has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the journal’s open access mission?
MB: I think open access, digital platforms are the future of scientific publishing, particularly platforms that ensure fast dissemination of manuscripts, support meaningful data sharing, and encourage post-publication judgement of results. HGG Advances aims to be such a platform. So, for members who already have strong beliefs about the principle of open access or those that are required to publish in an open access journal by their funders, HGG Advances is an ideal choice. Many other members likely have limited experience with open access publishing, so HGG Advances offers such researchers a forum for publication of their work within the context of an ASHG publication that, like AJHG, provides quality control and improvement in the scientific rigor of its papers through robust peer review by experts in the field.
The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the many merits of open access publish publishing as a means of quickly communicating scientific knowledge to a global readership. Indeed, much of the scientific knowledge about the pandemic has been published on preprint servers and made available for consumption and debate by other scientists, policy-makers, and public health officials almost immediately. Speedy reporting is important in science and digital, open-access platforms like HGG Advances will lead the way.
ASHG: Are there are focus areas or topics of interest for the journal right now? How will HGG Advances complement existing work in AJHG?
MB: HGG Advances will publish papers across a broad range of topical areas such as Mendelian phenotypes, complex traits and polygenic disorders; evolution and population genetics; statistical genetics and genetic epidemiology; epigenetics, gene regulation and developmental genetics; omics technologies, methods, and resources; and bioinformatics and computational approaches. These areas have also been strengths of AJHG as well and indeed the receipt by AJHG of so many high-quality manuscripts in these areas was part of the motivation for launching HGG Advances.
A digital-only publishing platform gives HGG Advances the flexibility and space to publish manuscripts in topical areas that, to date, have been less emphasized in AJHG. These include: genomic medicine; cancer genetics and genomics; genetic, genomic, and molecular diagnostics; prenatal, perinatal, and reproductive genetics; and genetic counseling, ELSI, policy and education. Accordingly, in combination, AJHG and HGG Advances will capture for ASHG membership a more complete spectrum of human genetics research.
ASHG: How has your research experience guided your editorial decisions?
MB: I have been privileged to be a researcher in human genetics and genomics for thirty years beginning at the “bench” now leading large-scale projects day-to-day. My research interests in human genetics are very broad and hence the projects supported in my lab over the years and the communities with which I have been deeply engaged are highly diverse—population genetics, gene discovery, computational genomics, developmental biology, functional genomics, rare disease advocates, clinical genetics, genetic counseling, statistical genetics, genetic epidemiology, bioengineering, ELSI, etc. Major research efforts have focused on understanding how population structure, genetic drift and gene flow influenced relationships among modern human populations; the impact of natural selection on the human genome and the use of selection mapping to identify risk variants for infectious diseases. Over the past decade or so, my efforts have concentrated on gene discovery for Mendelian conditions and complex traits. I think this broad background in research provides a context that will help me to appreciate the input and expertise of our diverse editorial board who together with our Deputy Editor, Dr. Jessica Chong, will help me balanced and thoughtful editorial decisions.
ASHG: How will the journal promote diversity and inclusion in its operations?
MB: HGG Advances will strive from its inception to strongly promote, if not require, inclusivity and equity in all facets of its operations and including its editorial board, content submitters, and reviewers, and thereby serve as a model of the philosophy and operations of the next generation of scientific publishers in general. As we have just launched, our early focus has been on recruiting Associate Editors (AEs) from across a broad range of career stages (e.g., early career investigators, established investigators of different gender preferences, ancestral backgrounds, geographic locations, and research experiences. We anticipate that such diversity among the AEs will facilitate identifying and soliciting manuscripts from both a broad range of topical areas and from diverse content submitters. This is, of course, somewhat of a passive approach and we are considering active strategies to encourage content submissions from communities historically under-represented in print publications. Achieving diversity in research in general is challenging and we look forward to exploring options and finding solutions in collaboration with the ASHG membership.
Submit your latest research in HGG Advances, ASHG’s society-led open access journal. Find out more here: https://www.cell.com/hgg-advances/home