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Editorial   |    
The Journal Renews Itself, Both Inside and Out
Am J Psychiatry 1998;155:997-999.
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The American Journal of Psychiatry, the oldest continuously published medical specialty journal in the United States, is a stately dowager with a youthful spirit. She has exhibited a wonderful Janusian capacity throughout most of her career. (Janus was a Greek god gifted with the ability to look both into the past and into the future.)

As all who can see will note, with this issue the stately dowager dons a new wardrobe. This new attire is a harbinger of other new possessions in her closet of resources. The "green journal" is still green, but her cover will now show the kind of beautiful graphic images that modern technology permits publishers, authors, artists, and scientists to produce. The cover of this issue, which contains a Special Article on the history of moral treatment in America, honors the long history of American psychiatry with a portrait of its founding father, Benjamin Rush. Covers for the next few months will feature other images that reflect the contents of the issues. However, beginning immediately, we also invite our authors to submit original designs for consideration for inclusion on the cover when they submit their manuscripts or after manuscripts are accepted. The cover submission need not be a picture from the article. We are particularly interested in receiving creative images that reflect the breadth of psychiatry: an original piece of graphic design created by the contributor that illustrates the ideas or basic message of an article with visual beauty and good taste. Art created by patients will also be considered. Each month we will select a "winner" in the competition for graphic art to place on the cover, using attractiveness, image quality, and imaginativeness as our criteria. Because of publishing deadlines, we have already scheduled covers through the next few months, but authors should feel free to begin submitting possible designs immediately. Submissions should consist of an electronic copy and a hard copy. We anticipate that competition for the cover will soon become as keen as competition for the pages within the Journal (the acceptance rate is about 17% for articles at present), and so we will not be able to accept all submissions. But what fun it is to design a beautiful image for a cover and imagine seeing it in print in a journal that reaches 50,000 subscribers all over the world.

More important than the new wardrobe, however, are the changes that will permit the Journal to reach even more subscribers and other readers around the United States and around the world, and to reach them more rapidly. Beginning with the October issue, the full text of the Journal will be available to all subscribers not only in print but also electronically. Our new Web site, created by Stanford's High Wire Press, will provide subscribers with many exciting features. For those who love to look back, we will have the Table of Contents (ToCs), abstracts, and full text of past issues available on-line back to 1996. As we have more time, we hope to extend this archival resource back for another decade or perhaps even longer. Even in a world where science moves with lightning speed, we stand on the shoulders of our predecessors and build on their contributions. Electronic access to full text will permit clinicians and scholars to browse through our past freely and efficiently and to review the changes that have occurred. Our Web site will also provide readers with an especially cunning trove of resources for assembling personalized files and libraries of past articles or abstracts, through the "collections" feature described below.

The new site will also permit readers to look into the future. In October readers will not only be able to view all the contents of the current issue on-line, but also be able to look ahead and see the contents of future issues, as summarized in the ToCs for several months ahead. As time and technology permit, we will also provide readers with abstracts of the articles in advance at the earliest date possible for us. Within the next year or two, we also hope to implement publishing "ASAP"; that is, issues will appear electronically before they appear in print, and the electronic publication will be the official "publication date." Because the electronic publication date will be the official publication date for referencing purposes, it will permit authors to establish their priority on interesting findings more quickly and to disseminate them to the scientific and clinical community more rapidly. The Journal has already cut down the publication lag time to 4–6 months after acceptance of a manuscript, providing authors with the most rapid vehicle for publication of any of the major monthly psychiatric journals.

As launched in October, our new Web site will contain many other exciting features that will permit clinicians to stay up-to-date (or even ahead of the field) and scientific investigators and scholars to search the literature more efficiently. Among these will be the ability to assemble "collections." Cross-issue and cross-journal browsing and searching in real time are special strengths of electronic publishing that provide a powerful complement to the print media. Although frequently "wired" on-line, your Editor is also a true lover of hard copies of books and journals. She believes that, unlike cuneiform tablets and papyrus scrolls, books and journals will not become extinct, at least any time soon, despite the power of electronic communication. Nonetheless, search engines and browsers offer special features that cannot be obtained through print media. (And contrariwise, electronic media lack some special features of books and journals: we cannot comfortably curl up in bed with a computer while also cuddling with a cat or dog, a down comforter, or a loved one.) The opportunity to do cross-linking and searching in electronic media is an incredibly powerful intellectual tool. Journal readers (and readers of other journals published by the American Psychiatric Publishing Group, or APPG) will now have the opportunity to assemble a variety of interesting collections on-line through the integrative capacities of electronic publishing.

Our new Web site will permit readers to examine (and if they wish, preserve) several different types of collections. As new visitors to the site will note, the contents of the current issue can be viewed by clicking on the icon showing the current issue. But, like Janus, they can look backward into the past by using the tools available on the left side of the page. We offer three tools to navigate (and organize) the contents of previous issues: by issue, by subject, and by section. 1) By issue: Readers can simply look back chronologically and view past contents issue by issue. We plan to steadily build a rich library of back issues. 2) By subject: Readers can also assemble personalized collections of past articles according to topic, selecting from a choice of categories that reflect the contents of past issues (e.g., psychotherapies, somatic therapies, mood disorders, schizophrenia, posttraumatic stress disorder, health economics, suicide, violence, genetics, imaging techniques). We presently have established cross-links to articles in other APPG publications (e.g., Psychiatric Services, Psychotherapy, Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, Geriatrics, Academic Psychiatry), and we anticipate that our connections to these cross-links will be strengthened over the coming years. Thus, readers will also be able to develop expanded collections that contain articles from other APPG publications. 3) By section: Readers who have favorite sections can also assemble personal collections of these sections from the current issue and past contents (e.g., In This Issue, Editorials, Images in Psychiatry, Special Articles, Clinical Case Conferences).

We will also be offering the special feature of personalized electronic alerting. This feature permits readers to specify by electronic registration personal areas of interest, much as for the collections feature described above, and receive notice by e-mail of the particular articles that have been published in their particular areas of interest. Through this mechanism readers can be alerted to articles which will be coming out in the current issue that are of particular interest to them, whether they are clinicians or research scientists (or both).

As Editor of The American Journal of Psychiatry, I want to provide our authors with the most fair and rapid review and publication process that I can, and to provide our subscribers and readers with the best and most useful clinical, educational, and scientific data that are created in our field. As it continues to develop clinically and scientifically, psychiatry has grown more intellectually complex and demanding. Over time, psychiatrists are required to update and upgrade, just as do pediatricians, surgeons, radiologists, pathologists, and internists. None of us wants our specialty to be defined as one that remains static or is not grounded firmly on a scientific basis. The joy of working in psychiatry is its breadth—which challenges all of us to stretch our minds and expand our horizons. I hope that the new electronic version of the Journal will make this task easier for all of you.




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