The Responsibility of the Professional Society for Scientific Communications [Editorial], 1968
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The American Journal of Cardiology Official Journal of the American College of Cardiology Tenth Anniversary Issue Abstracts of Papers Annual Meeting, San Francisco February 28 to March 3, 1968 A PUBLICATION OF THE Yorke MEDICAL GROUP JANUARY 1968

Page  2 The Responsibility of the Professional Society for Scientific Communications If scientific communication is to remain effective, professional societies must continue to assume responsibility for improving the scientific record and establishing new mechanisms for its dissemination. Although responsibility for improving the technics of information transfer is not borne solely by the professional society-academic institutions, government, industry and the research library all share that burden-the professional society has a central role in scientific communication as a matter of both historical fact and present necessity. Since the Royal Society (of London) published Philosophical Transactions in the seventeenth century, nearly all newly formed professional societies have engaged in publishing reports of scientific investigation as an essential part of their activities. However, as De Solla Price has pointed out, the scientific journal was not invented to publish new scientific findings exclusively; it was intended, rather, to monitor and digest learned publications and letters that were too numerous for one person to keep abreast of during his daily work. The rising tide of scientific publications has resulted in the birth of more than 40,000 scientific journals with little or no concurrent growth of the critical editorial and review processes necessary to assure that only high quality, significant new information be printed for wide distribution. Unfortunately, the honorable profession of medical editing with few exceptions (such as Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine) has been delegated to distinguished, but often overworked, active scientists who assume their editing and review roles on an additional duty (part-time) basis. Although most part-time editors in fact labor vigorously, many are pleased to be relieved after a relatively short tenure. The American Journal of Cardiology has been blessed with the sustained editorial leadership of Dr. Simon Dack for the decade since the publication of its inaugural issue in January 1958. The format of the original issue has been followed much unchanged since that time, providing the readership with a thoughtful editorial, new clinical studies, experimental reports, an occasional critical review, historical milestones, and important news and announcements. As stated in Dr. Dack's first editorial, The American Journal of Cardiology was started to carry out two important functions: to provide postgraduate education and a forum for dissemination of ideas and knowledge in cardiology. It has fulfilled these objectives, but, like other scientific journals, it must still seek new methods of information transfer. The cycle of analysis and synthesis underlies the advancement of all scientific knowledge. Today, as the flood of research reports in biomedicine approaches a quarter of a million a year, we particularly need to reinforce those scientific communication functions which serve to select, evaluate and relate these reports critically, and to provide for the community at large syntheses of the new knowledge so proliferating. The determination of salients of the frontier requiring such treatment is a responsibility of professional editors who are uniquely qualified to monitor and assess developments in a specialty field. Today's emphasis on continuing medical education makes it all the more important that the original purposes of the College be served by providing "comprehensive and provocative reviews of subjects of current interest" as originally promised by Dr. Dack. My concern today is related to the infrequent appearance of true review articles such as appeared in the Journal's early issues and their replacement by more narrow technical subject reports, which, in my view, do not serve the unique purposes for which the Journal was established. These purposes are more relevant to the medical practitioner than ever before in the history of medicine. There can be little doubt that medical reviews form an important and increasing part of general background reading by the medical investigator, clinician and educator. Greater emphasis on this form in journals would help significantly to improve the journal as a device for scientific communication. To state it another way, I hope the Journal will return to its original philosophy of reporting

Page  3 "what's new in cardiology" and add for the practitioner "what you need to know about cardiology." There is a clear need for professional correlation and evaluation of published materials if they are to be of maximal use to the practitioner. The physician is in danger of being overwhelmed by the information he has helped to create; the professional society must come to his aid. Such a goal would re-establish the Journal in a mode that would reflect the original concepts of the Royal Society and serve the needs of contemporary medicine as well. Throughout the history of the Journal the attention to high quality publication has never faltered. The College and its Editorial Board should be very proud of its contribution to information transfer through this medium. A return to its original purposes will, in my view, assure its continued success for decades to come. MARTIN M. CUMMINGS, M.D. Director National Library of Medicine THE SEVENTEENTH ANNUAL SCIENTIFIC MEETING of the AMERICAN COLLEGE OF CARDIOLOGY will be in session at the San Francisco Hilton Hotel San Francisco, California February 28 to March 3, 1968 Complete information begins on page 122, this issue.