After seven years at the helm of the Journal of Hospital Medicine, I am both pleased to hand over the reins and sad to let them go. My time as Editor in Chief has been wonderful, challenging, and fulfilling.
When I began my tenure, JHM managed approximately 350 papers annually, and published 10 times per year. We had no social media presence, a developing editorial sense (and developing Editor in Chief), and a pool of hard-working and passionate Editors. As of this year, we have handled more than 700 papers and are publishing content monthly, online only, and online first. Our dedicated team is deeply passionate about making every paper better through interaction with the authors—whether we accept it for publication or not.
JHM has added a presence on Facebook and Twitter, launched a Twitter Journal Club as a regular offering (#JHMChat), added visual abstracts to our Tweets and Facebook postings, and researched how these novel approaches increase not only the Journal’s social media presence but also its public face. Our efforts in social media were trendsetting in peer-reviewed literature, and the Editors who lead those efforts—Vineet Arora and Charlie Wray—are asked to consult for other journals regularly.
We launched two new series— Choosing Wisely®: Next Steps, and Choosing Wisely®: Things We Do For No Reason—with help from the ABIM Foundation and visionary Editors, Andy Masica, Ann Sheehy, and Lenny Feldman. These papers have pushed Hospitalists and Hospital Medicine to think carefully about the simple things we do every day, to think broadly about how to move past the initial ‘low-hanging fruit’ of value improvement, and point us towards policy and intervention approaches that are disruptive rather than incremental.
A special thank you to Som Mookherjee, Brian Harte, Dan Hunt, and Read Pierce who ably developed the Clinical Care Conundrums and Review series. They are assisted by teams of national correspondents and many contributors who’ve submitted work for those series.
I have been blessed by a team of more than a dozen Associate Editors who have ably, expeditiously, and collegially managed more than 2,000 papers. These Editors work out of a sense of altruism and commitment to Hospital Medicine and have made huge individual contributions to JHM through their reviewing expertise and ensuring that the editorial sense for JHM is as broad and innovative as our field.
Finally, I must thank my core team of Senior Deputy Editors who have shouldered the majority of editorial work, mentored Editors (including me) and Peer Reviewers, and provided strategic guidance.
How peer-reviewed journals are published is changing rapidly. Setting aside the questions of how we consume our medical literature and the transition from paper to digital, old financial models depending on subscriptions and advertising are either dying or evolving into something very different. The challenge is that the new model is very unclear and the old model based on ads and subscriptions is clearly nonviable but is the primary way to support the work of producing a journal. Moving from the current model to one based on clicks, views, or downloads will come down to who will derive benefit from those clicks/downloads, who will be willing to pay to read and learn from the work of authors, or who views that activity as being worthy enough advertise somewhere in that process or to monetize the data garnered from readers’ activities. In addition, many journals, including JHM, are supported by professional societies. While professional societies have a goal to serve their members, the goal of the peer-reviewed journal is to independently and broadly represent the field. One must reflect the other, but space between the two will always be required.
The speed with which research takes place is too slow, and the process of getting evidence into print (much less adopted) is even slower. But, this too is changing; the role of peer review and the publication process is evolving. In order to speed the potential discovery of new innovations, prepublication repositories (such as BioRxViv) are gaining popularity; well-publicized scandals around peer reviewing rings 1 have not gone unnoticed, and have produced greater interest in using prepublication comments and online discussions as early forms of review. As a result, the disintermediation between scientist and ‘evidence’ is paralleling the disintermediation between events and messengers elsewhere. One need only review Twitter for a moment to get a sense for how crowdsourcing can lead to evidence (or news) generation for good or ill. I agree that while the end of journals (as we understand them now) is upon us, these are also opportunities for JHM as it enters its new phase and a place for leadership. 2
I am proud of what we have done at JHM in the last seven years. We have grown substantially. We have innovated and provided great service to our authors and the field of Hospital Medicine. Our growth and forward-looking approaches to social media and our digital footprint put the journal on a great path towards adapting to the trends in Hospital Medicine research and peer-reviewed publishing. Our focus on being doctors who care for patients and our teams—not just doctors who care for hospitals—is supporting the field and our practice. I look forward to seeing where JHM goes next.