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- ↵*Address correspondence to:
Anthony N. DeMaria, MD, MACC, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 3655 Nobel Drive, Suite 400, San Diego, California 92122, USA.
“A dwarf sees farther than the giant when he has the giant’s shoulder to mount on.”
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The Friend, Sec.i.Essay 8
This issue of JACCmarks a major event in the life of the Journalas the Editorial Office transitions from Bill Parmley and associates at UCSF to myself and colleagues at UCSD. To be sure, the state of the Journalis exceptionally strong. It has a huge circulation; and, of equal importance, surveys indicate that the vast majority of subscribers read each issue intently. The Journalenjoys a worldwide readership and, in fact, now receives over 50% of submissions from outside the U.S. The editorial content of JACCis of high quality, as attested to by its robust impact factor. It has achieved the recognition and respect appropriate to the primary scientific organ of the American College of Cardiology (ACC), the professional society of cardiovascular specialists in the U.S. and of many abroad.
The bulk of the credit for the lofty stature enjoyed by JACCshould be given to its previous editors. Simon Dack, the Founding Editor, was universally recognized for his intellect, wisdom, and sense of fairness. He was a man of enormous energy and vision who nurtured JACCthrough adolescence. When, after 19 years, Simon retired, there was a general consensus that Bill Parmley possessed these same qualities and would be the perfect successor. He has guided JACCthrough an era of emerging subspecialization and has ensured the relevance and importance of the Journalto the cardiovascular community. Confronted with a publication that usually was able to accept less than 20% of submitted manuscripts, he and the Associate Editors clearly exerted judgments that received the approval of both readers and authors. That so many authors, including this one, could accept rejection letters with the confidence that their manuscripts had been treated carefully and fairly is perhaps the greatest testimony to Bill and his team. Together, Drs. Dack and Parmley have positioned JACCin the center of the professional lives of cardiovascular specialists throughout the world.
Despite the success that JACCenjoys, the future poses many challenges and opportunities. Given their rich tradition, medical journals have become so well established in the role of transmission of information that their format has become somewhat standardized. In fact, medical journals in general have not changed significantly in the 30-plus years since I was in medical school. However, we have now entered a period in which modes of communication are changing rapidly within society. The internet and wireless communications are just two examples of these fundamental changes in the way we transmit information. Moreover, with the explosion of scientific knowledge, it has become critically important to manage both what and how new data are presented to busy physicians. The Journalmust continue to evolve and exploit new communication technology to meet the needs of readers and authors.
The development that promises to have the greatest impact on medical journals is the internet. A new online manuscript submission and review system has already been implemented for JACC, eliminating the need to mail paper documents and markedly reducing the time necessary to conduct reviews and reach acceptance decisions. The process of making new data available to readers will be shortened even further as manuscripts are posted on the web shortly after the galley proofs receive approval. However, this acceleration of the publication process represents only the beginning of how the internet can change scientific communication. The Journalis currently in the midst of implementing the capability to display manuscript illustrations in the form of full streaming video. When fully operational, images such as echocardiograms and angiograms, available in print only as single freeze frames, will be viewable in full motion. Hot links to standard literature archives could provide rapid access to papers cited in the bibliographies of, or containing material related to, published manuscripts. Perhaps of greatest impact, posting on the internet offers the potential to establish venues for open written dialogue between readers and authors, viewable by all after publication. In so doing, manuscripts may be turned into living documents and the medical literature into an interactive experience comparable to that of scientific meetings.
Another area of continuing challenge for JACCis that of content. Clearly, the explosion of scientific discovery has rendered it impossible for most journals to accept all meritorious submissions and has led to an increasing number of medical publications. This has caused authors to feel frustrated and readers to feel like they are trying to drink from a fire hose. In the same vein, the long-standing tug of war between the number of pages devoted to new research findings versus review or opinion articles, or to basic science versus clinical investigation, is more cogent than ever. In the coming years, JACCwill have to balance the desire to publish as much worthwhile material with the need to provide busy readers the greatest return for time invested in the Journal.
There are, of course, many other important issues that JACCwill need to confront as time passes. Potential conflict of interest, the need to expedite publication of data that are particularly original or have a great impact on clinical care or research efforts, and the interaction with other medical publications and knowledge systems are just a few of the subjects that are likely to be discussed in these pages in the future. I am convinced that we stand at the threshold of the greatest change to medical journals in the past half century. Times of great change carry with them both challenges and opportunities, and they provide the substrate for innovations. It is incumbent upon JACCto continue to evolve to meet the needs of our readers, the aspirations of our authors, the expectations of the ACC, and our responsibilities to the patients who depend on the cardiovascular community for the best possible care. This is, to be sure, a daunting task. However, the Associate Editors and I profit greatly from the existing strength of the Journaland the example and guidance provided by those who have shepherded JACCin the past. In assuming editorial responsibilities from Bill Parmley and associates, we are encouraged that it will be possible to see into the future and both adapt to, as well as initiate, change—because we stand on the shoulders of giants.
↵1 Editor-in-Chief, Journal of the American College of Cardiology
- American College of Cardiology Foundation