IT IS WITH great pleasure and sense of responsibility that I write today as the eighth Editor of BLOOD. The position of Editor-in-Chief of our Journal has traditionally been filled by a well-established investigator in Hematology, who had convincingly demonstrated both scientific expertise and editorial excellence during many years of contribution. In both respects, I consider myself junior. So it is with an untested belief that the Publications and Executive Committees of the Society have given me their confidence; I promise to do my best not only to maintain the scientific excellence of the Journal, but to continue the work of my insightful predecessors in improving BLOOD as it enters its sixth decade.
By all accounts BLOOD has grown to become an extremely successful scientific enterprise. The readership of the Journal stands at over 14,000, far exceeding our Society's growing membership. I believe this reflects the scientific standing of BLOOD, an opinion borne out by statistics. Last year, the Journal ranked highly in every measure of scientific publications, having recently passedCIRCULATION as the journal with the highest impact factor rate of all medical subspecialty journals. Jim Griffin and the Associate Editors deserve much credit for this standing, and our new Editorial team and I hope to continue to improve upon this record.
Given this history of excellence, our new Editorial team plans to take an “if it isn't broke, don't fix it policy.” However, that is not to say we plan on continuing without change. I believe there are areas in which the Journal can benefit from midcourse corrections. Over the next several months you will see changes that I hope reflect the needs of both biomedical scientists and practicing hematologists. Our Reviews are, on occasion, dense and difficult to digest. We hope to trim these, providing concise review papers on scientific and clinical topics of importance to our readership, each containing up-to-date information designed to educate and stimulate both the uninitiated and expert in the field. Many of these reviews will explore cross-disciplinary topics in basic sciences, including apoptosis, intercellular adhesion and communication, inside-out signaling, and the cell cycle, subjects that are becoming increasingly important to Hematologists and Oncologists. A portion of these reviews will assume a new format, “Controversies in Hematology,” a forum of data-based point and counterpoint discussions by two leaders in a field who hold opposite views. “Controversies in Hematology” will be designed to objectively discuss both sides of an unresolved issue in Hematology, provoke further discussion, and leave the reader to draw his or her own conclusions. Examples of topics to be covered include the deterministic versus permissive role of growth factors in hematopoiesis, the optimal treatment for stage IIb Hodgkin's disease, whether to prophylactically treat or observe an individual with Factor VLeiden, whether to treat or observe PCR-determined minimal residual disease, and whether to treat patients with acute nonlymphocytic leukemia with chemotherapy alone or by transplant. We also plan to make more use of the Editorial, both to convey matters of Journal policy and academic concern, and to highlight papers of particular importance appearing in each issue of BLOOD. This latter aspect will take the form of a “News and Views” segment, much the way NATURE provides commentary. Authored by members of the Editorial Board, this new forum will be designed to draw attention to papers the Editors believe are of widespread importance or represent a major paradigm shift. Overall, our goals will be to maintain BLOOD as the premier Hematology journal, to provide a forum for the presentation of outstanding science, and to furnish the clinician with both the primary data needed to guide patient care and to illuminate the scientific basis of future therapies.
How will all of this be accomplished? Ironically, one of major issues confronting our Journal is its tremendous success. At the time this editorial appears, BLOOD will have received more than 2,600 manuscripts for consideration in 1997. As simple examination of the thickness of each issue demonstrates, the growing size of the journal reflects an attempt to keep up with an ever-increasing desire of physicians and scientists to publish within our pages. In 1996 we published over 11,000 pages, nearly a 70% increase since 1992. However, as publishing costs rise, and the physical arm strength of our members remains constant, it is becoming clear that we can no longer maintain the philosophy of “publishing all the hematologic news that's fit to print.” We must limit our pages to the very best that Hematology has to offer. This places increased importance on the peer-review process; we will soon expand our Editorial Board, with the goal of having every paper reviewed by at least one member of that devoted body. This will require a greater commitment on behalf of our Editorial Board members, but should provide a more balanced and consistent approach to the difficult decisions of acceptance and rejection.
Despite our general approach of not repairing what is working well, I would like to take this opportunity to emphatically reinforce one important issue, that of the sharing of reagents described in the pages of our Journal. Although always an unstated principle of BLOOD,making the renewable reagents described in scientific articles available to qualified investigators in the field is now a stated requirement of publication. The basis for this policy is straightforward: the scientific process requires that a new finding, to be established, must be reproducible. If a new finding is based on a new reagent, it cannot be reproduced if that reagent is not available to the scientific community for testing. The policy is simple and applies to individual academic laboratories and to corporate contributors alike. If you report on a new cDNA, monoclonal antibody, cell line, or other easily renewable resource, you must make it available to other qualified individuals with minimal restrictions if you expect to continue to publish in BLOOD.
In closing I would like to thank Jim Griffin, for his counsel and support, and the outgoing Associate Editors and members of the Editorial Board for their tremendous service over the past 5 (or more) years. You may think your term is over, but you will not be forgotten. There are many more papers waiting for review! I thank in advance our continuing Associate Editors and our new Associate Editors, Cynthia Dunbar, Tomas Ganz, Jerome Groopman, and Dan Longo, and our entire 1998 Editorial Board, for their commitment and efforts. And I thank the Publications and Executive Committees for providing me the opportunity to contribute to an exciting scientific endeavor. I look forward to the next 5 years with great anticipation.