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The Wind of Change: Respecting the Past, Embracing the Future
10 January 2012 (online)
Significant changes of any setting do not only carry the risk of failure, but almost always also provide new opportunities, such as the freedom to modernize or the re-orientation into future developments. The transition of Arzneimittelforschung/Drug Research from Editio Cantor Verlag – the publisher of the Journal for over 60 years – to Georg Thieme Verlag is certainly such a change of setting.
The strong reputation the Journal has built in the community of drug researchers over those years demands a respectful transition and the conservation of strong traditions, such as the indispensable independence of the peer review process and the broad scope of areas covered. We are extremely grateful that the editorial board members have agreed – with very few exceptions – to continue their support, another feature which ensures a seamless transition.
Regarding the opportunities created, it is obvious and very advantageous that the new publisher provides excellent technical facilities to modernize the reviewing and publishing process, reflected in the introduction of an electronic manuscript submission system. Thieme’s large portfolio of scientific media, both print and electronic, will aid the representation of the Journal in the community of stakeholders.
While all of this is certainly helpful and important, it does not even come close to the core of opportunities which are related to a scientific re-orientation of the Journal. Drug research involves a large number of distinct scientific specialties, ranging from biology through pharmacology, medical chemistry, pharmaceutics and biotechnology to clinical sciences and even to health economics. In the past decade it has become increasingly evident that these disciplines – though highly developed per se – did not satisfactorily achieve what they have been ultimately charged with: to develop new drugs (or devices) and finally to improve patient health and care. As a general cause to be blamed for this apparent inefficiency of biomedical research at large, the lack of communication and interaction of disciplines has been identified, in particular addressing the deep barriers between preclinical and clinical enterprises. These claims were put under the umbrella of the term “Translational Medicine”, and this catchword became a leading phrase in the biomedical sciences for the past decade. It describes the facilitation of transitions within the developmental process of drugs (and devices), e. g., from the test tube to animals, from animals to early clinical trials, and so on. So far, it has generated awareness for transitional problems, though substantial improvements at the output level are still hard to detect. Concerning the re-orientation of the Journal, however, it seems of paramount importance to reflect the valuable claims of translational medicine in the scope and selection process of its articles. Thus papers clearly identifying the translational perspectives or describing translational processes and transition will be prioritized against isolated studies not embedded in a process aiming at patients’ sake.
As all disciplines mentioned above and in the aims and scope section of the Journal description are capable of contributing to this process, there will be no major change in the principle topics covered; just the thrust of the works presented will be profiled against the claims of translational medicine.
It is needless to say that the orientation of a scientific journal has to be, and will be in this case, a continuous, never-ending process to cope with current developments and future challenges, and hence the aims described above will be subject to regular assessment.
Some tasks are also still on the to-do-list, for example the troublesome multiplicity of citation formats for the Journal, which needs to be eliminated in the near future, and certainly, new forms of distribution channels and media.
As for now all is set by the publisher, the Editor-in-Chief and all others involved in the peer-review and production processes to handle the transition and re-orientation, a spirit of innovation, renovation and inspiration creates the environment in which such enterprises may thrive. The readers and authors of the Journal will be the most important contributors to this change process as its success critically depends on their support. Be assured that we will do everything possible to deserve your trust, make your efforts visible and continue to provide a valued vehicle for the dissemination of your research.·
Mannheim, January 2012
Prof. Dr. Martin Wehling