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Is the journal for the author or the reader?
This was a question posed to me during my interview for the position of Editor in Chief for EMJ—and one I was keen to answer.
Like many of you in emergency medicine, I've been both a producer and a consumer of journal articles. On the production end, I've conducted and published research, and served as a reviewer and editor, critiquing and selecting articles for publication submitted by others like myself. An excellent arrangement for an academic: my work is disseminated, hopefully advancing knowledge and creating change; my university promotes me because I am publishing and providing a professional service. The process also results in a steady (and ever-increasing) flow of manuscripts and a sizeable cadre of willing (and unpaid) reviewers for the journals.
As a consumer—that is, a practising emergency clinician, with limited time and the attention span of a Labrador Retriever (and thus well suited to EM)—I find most journals exasperating. With the arrival of each month's issue, I am presented with a dozen or so original research articles on a variety of topics. There is little context. The authors may tell me what research has come before, but often with the objective of explaining why this particular study is unique. They will dutifully catalogue the limitations but may then explain them away. Although each article has been previously peer reviewed by those with more expertise than I have in the …
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