THE IMPORTANCE of prompt, reliable, and insightful communication in basic scientific investigation and clinical medicine should not be underestimated. Rarely do completely novel ideas and concepts arise; rather, most of the advances made in the basic and clinical sciences come from the logical pursuit of hypotheses grown from the collected work of scientific communities. The cornerstone of this cross-fertilization of ideas, data, methods, and experimental strategies is the biomedical journal. In order to fulfill this role, periodicals must be flexible, adapting to the needs of the communities they serve. As such, the readers of BLOOD will witness several changes in the following year.
The speed with which scientific and clinical data are disseminated is key to their timely use by others. In the past, most journals, including BLOOD, created a special category of publication, which in our journal is termed a Rapid Communication. These papers contain material deemed by the authors and our editors to require immediate publication. For many journals, includingBLOOD, publication of Rapid Communications was significantly faster than that of the other papers appearing in the Journal. However, this is no longer the case for BLOOD. The average time from submission to publication for papers designated as aRapid Communication is presently only 1 week quicker than for manuscripts submitted as Regular Papers. This is due, in large measure, to our accelerated schedule of publishing all accepted papers. Moreover, the perception that Rapid Communications must be processed more rapidly has, on occasion, led to a less than ideal review process. For these reasons, starting in volume 94 (July 1, 1999), BLOOD will no longer differentiate between Rapidand Regular papers, knowing that we will not compromise in providing our readers with the timely publication of important scientific and clinical information.
The term Rapid also evolved to encompass the notion that such papers were of exceptional scientific importance. Many papers published in BLOOD provide important new paradigms, illuminate fundamental aspects of cell biology or clinical medicine, or are absolutely definitive in a highly focused area of clinical or basic science. In years past, many of these exceptional papers were published as Rapid Communications, but an equal number were not so designated. As we abandon our Rapid Communications category, the Editors have elected to call greater attention to the papers that fulfill these criteria by expanding upon the Focus on Hematology segment begun last year to include papers the Editors believe are of special importance for the broader readership of the Journal. Such “Plenary Papers” will appear in every issue of the Journal, occasionally accompanied by an editorial designed to provide an expanded background for the work and to highlight the importance of the paper for the readership not intimately involved in that area of clinical or scientific endeavor. Authors submitting manuscripts to the Journal are invited to recommend that their papers be considered for such designation if they believe their work is of broad interest to the readership, provides a novel insight into basic or clinical sciences, or definitively answers an important question occupying the attention of practitioners or investigators of Hematology. A brief cover letter calling attention to the characteristics making the paper of outstanding significance should accompany the submission.
In keeping with other needs of our readers, the Editors are taking measures to relieve the arm strain caused by the sheer weight of a typical issue of BLOOD! There are several ways we will do this. One is by introducing a word limit on submissions. Although draconian measures are not yet called for, we believe that all of the scientific principles and data necessary to convince the readership of a clinical or scientific advance with very few exceptions can be encompassed in 5,500 words, and with an abstract containing 250 words or less. As such, we now request a computer generated text word count and abstract word count to accompany each manuscript submission. Moreover, the size of figures that present data should be carefully considered by potential authors; attention to such details will not sacrifice important scientific points and will make a paper that is easier to read and a journal that is easier to carry. We encourage authors considering submission to the Journal to carefully read the newInstructions to Authors in this and subsequent issues ofBLOOD.
Additional changes starting with volume 94 will be found in theCorrespondence section. For many years this segment of the Journal has been composed primarily of letters to the editor, mixed with short experimental results or interesting patient presentations. As more of these short scientific presentations are cited in the medical literature, the Editors believe it is prudent that they, like all of the other papers in BLOOD, are subject to appropriate peer-review. Such “Brief Reports” will have an absolute limit of two pages, containing at most 1,000 words and one figure and one table. In contrast, letters to the editor have always been screened but are not peer-reviewed, and thus will be separated from the peer-reviewed section of BLOOD. The Editors remain committed to provide a forum for commentary on papers published in the Journal.
One of the foundations of providing the readers of BLOOD with the very best papers in the field are the outstanding efforts of our reviewers. The Editors would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of our Editorial Board, and the near 1,800 individuals who took time from their busy schedules to review the 3,000 manuscripts submitted to BLOOD in 1998. We would especially like to thank the 21 scientists and clinicians who reviewed 10 or more papers for the Journal in 1998; these members of our “Reviewer Honor Roll” will soon learn of their distinction, as will their Department Chairs. But with these thanks come a plea. The number of manuscripts submitted toBLOOD continues to rise. Only the willingness of members of our clinical and scientific communities to accept papers for review, and their timely completion of the task, will allow our Journal to communicate the very best that investigative hematology has to offer.
Finally, in the coming year we hope to continue to fulfill our goal of providing the Hematology and other scientific communities with up-to-date, concise primary data and timely reviews. By all measures, BLOOD is a successful journal. The 1997 Citation Index for the Journal was 9.5, ranking BLOOD amongst the top biomedical journals available. Many of our papers were cited in excess of 100 times in the past 2 years, indicating our continued commitment to publishing papers that set standards in Clinical and Experimental Hematology, Cell and Molecular Biology, Tumor Immunology, and Biochemistry. With the continued efforts of the Associate Editors, our Editorial Board and reviewers, and the staff of the Central Editorial Office, we hope to continue to provide the readers ofBLOOD with cutting edge advances in clinical medicine and the scientific basis for advancing our field.