The AAA Board of Directors has voted to discontinue publication of the New Anatomist (NA) at the end of 2006 and has asked its publisher, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., to develop a business plan for a new anatomy education journal.
Following the board's vote on 31 March, AAA President Kathy Svoboda relayed the decision to the New Anatomist Editorial Board at its 4 April meeting, outlining the steps the board had taken in reaching this difficult decision.
A confluence of three key factors led AAA to appoint a task force to assess the New Anatomist, published as a supplement to the Anatomical Record (AR) since 1998, and make recommendations for the future. These factors were as follows: Kurt Albertine taking over as editor of the Anatomical Record in 2005 with a new vision for the journal; Duane Haines stepping down as chair of the NA Editorial Board; and revelation of the fact that NA was no longer being tracked for impact factor, which led to concern about the effect this situation was having on AR.
As part of its assessment, the NA Task Force developed an online survey that was sent to all AAA members and posted on the NA Web site. Most of the 317 who responded viewed the publication favorably. For example, more than half of the respondents read all or some of the articles in each issue and 55% reported using ideas from these articles or discussing them with a colleague. Numerous suggestions for changes and improvements were offered. In particular, many were interested in a stronger focus on anatomy education; numerous respondents recommended a greater emphasis on submitted rather than invited articles.
AAA and Wiley representatives also met with Thomson Scientific, the company that tracks journal citations and impact factors. Thomson officials explained that they had discontinued coverage of NA because it publishes material that does not meet their criteria of scholarly content.
Thomson further confirmed that beginning the “Part A/Part B” designations of the Anatomical Record and the New Anatomist in 2003 led to a situation whereby the Anatomical Record (published from 1906 to 2002) was viewed as a completely different journal from the Anatomical Record: Part A (published from 2003 to the present). This, in turn, made it appear that the Anatomical Record no longer had an impact factor and, conversely, that the Anatomical Record: Part A did not have an impact factor history. In either case, this was a critical concern as Albertine began his tenure as editor.
Meanwhile, in discussions about the future of the New Anatomist, a proposal emerged for a new peer-reviewed education journal that would cover all areas of the anatomical sciences. Recognizing that it would take time to assess the feasibility of such a publication, the AAA board asked Wiley to drop the “Part A/Part B” designations, but to continue publishing the New Anatomist until a decision could be reached on a possible new publication.
However, Wiley said that if AAA wanted to continue publishing the New Anatomist through 2007, pending a decision for the long-term, then Wiley preferred to retain the “Part A/Part B” distinction through 2007 to avoid confusing libraries. Recognizing that there would be continued damage to AR as long as the “Part A/Part B” distinction exists, the AAA board decided instead to end bimonthly publication of the New Anatomist with the November 2006 issue. This facilitates quicker implementation of an AR impact factor adjustment proposed by Thomson.
NA Managing Editor Mark Paalman and the NA Editorial Advisory Board are moving ahead to fill the final issues with high-quality articles that fulfill NA's original mission of promoting and enhancing the image of anatomy. The AAA board expressed its gratitude to the NA Editorial Advisory Board: Duane Haines (chairman emeritus), Richard Drake, Paul Heidger, Jr., James Olds, Joy Reidenberg, Charles Slonecker, Ian Tattersall, and Robert Trelease.
Meanwhile, the NA Task Force, chaired by Lynne Opperman and including Kurt Albertine, Richard Drake, John Fallon, and Andrea Pendleton, is working with Wiley to determine the viability of a new international education publication with both submitted and solicited articles. The scope of this journal would encompass all levels of anatomical sciences education, including undergraduate, allied health, medical (both allopathic and osteopathic), dental, graduate and postgraduate, covering issues related to gross anatomy, embryology, histology, and neuroscience education. AAA has asked both the American Association of Clinical Anatomists and the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society to participate in the new publication; both societies have expressed an interest.
The AAA board expects to review a feasibility report this fall and make a decision no later than its April 2007 meeting.