Duke Heart Failure Specialist Leads International Journal

Q&A with the editor-in-chief

Graphic of heart

Entering his second year as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Cardiac Failure (JCF), Duke advanced heart failure specialist Robert J. Mentz, MD, has worked to enhance the international journal with a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion while creating a more transparent, welcoming environment for contributors and readers.

JCF serves as the official journal for both the Heart Failure Society of America and the Japanese Heart Failure Society. Mentz assumed the editorship in December 2021, working with his team to usher in a philosophical shift in the language of the condition, preferring “heart function” to “heart failure,” for example, and introducing a new tagline for journal: From failure to function. While emphasizing a foundation of high-quality science, Mentz also embraced strategic social media outreach to improve the journal’s digital presence.

What editorial philosophy guides your approach to content?

Mentz: We publish pieces that bring thoughtful, patient-centered perspectives to the presentation and discussion of heart failure (HF), which will affect more than 8 million Americans next year and remains the leading cause of hospitalization among older adults. Despite promising medical therapies, including new drugs and devices, outcomes remain poor for patients living with HF: increased hospitalization, poor quality of life, and increased mortality.

Our goal is to improve the lives of patients living with HF by emphasizing clinical care based on scientific guidelines and rigorous original research to help improve quality of life for patients as well as their ‘co-patients,’ a term we use to describe family members and/or caregiver support. We’ve also created a Patient and Caregiver section, which reflects our “language matters” movement, and we encourage content submissions to share their thoughts. The articles in this section are among the most highly downloaded from our website.

How does an editor incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in medical publishing?

Mentz: We believe in creating a diverse team representing many domains and perspectives. We constructed our editorial group with an equal number of men and women, and we have deliberately brought together varied specialists—physicians, nurses, PharmDs, and other clinical researchers—to fully incorporate racial, ethnic, and geographic diversity. This has been one of our most important and distinctive accomplishments to date.

This diversity has strengthened our position in the HF literature space and is also evident in our review process. To minimize bias and ensure DEI, we focus on a submission’s content by using double-blinded reviews to ensure our assessment is based on the article’s quality rather than the source.

What changes are you planning for the journal?

Mentz: We want our editorial team to intersect with everyone in the HF community to improve the overall experience of working with a journal. We help authors submit research more efficiently via what we call “your paper, your way,” in which we allow submission without reformatting, for example. We’ve also instituted a Court of Appeals: If a paper gets favorable reviews by other journals but is ultimately rejected, we invite those authors to submit the revised manuscript to JCF to allow a pathway for more efficient consideration of publication. We also prioritize manuscript submissions from earlier stage investigators including to our dedicated journal section entitled the “Early Career and Trainee Spotlight.”

Significant Duke presence at Journal of Cardiac Failure

Duke specialists are well represented among the 120 editors and editorial board members of the journal: Adam DeVore, MD, MHS, is associate editor. Marat Fudim, MD, MHS, is editor of the hemodynamics section and John Pura, PhD is a lead biostatistician. Cardiology fellow Vanessa Blumer, MD, serves as trainee editor. Two Duke clinicians serve on the editorial board: heart failure medication specialist Tracy A. DeWald, PharmD, and surgery trainee Muath Bishawi, MD, PhD, MPH.