In the 1990s, Arthritis Care & Research (AC&R) was struggling. There were relatively few submissions to the journal and many of the manuscripts submitted were second “cuts” on the data from larger projects. At that point, there was serious discussion of discontinuing the journal.
Instead, the American College of Rheumatology took a more positive approach. The College decided to make AC&R a section of Arthritis & Rheumatism (A&R), in effect to let A&R adopt AC&R. The parent journal and AC&R would share a title (with the AC&R title becoming an after-the-colon subtitle) and an impact factor. The process began under the guidance of the previous AC&R Editor, Dr. Gene Hunder, and has continued under the current Editors. Anticipating the need for continuity during AC&R's growth, the term of the current Editors was extended.
The strategy has been successful beyond expectations. Since AC&R became a section of A&R, the number of submissions to AC&R has increased more than 5-fold to over 1,000 per year, the journal has expanded from 6 issues per year to 12 issues per year, and the impact factor when estimated separately from that of A&R has grown to 3.5, a very high figure in the world of subspecialty journals. Because that impact factor is based on articles published in 2006 and 2007 and cited in 2008, and because the quality of the submissions as well as their number has increased, the impact factor is likely to continue to rise.
A&R has been a good parent, nurturing the child first by exposing its own readership to AC&R and then, as AC&R matured, by allowing it to establish an independent identity as an important venue for the publication of clinical research in rheumatology. As the health care environment has changed, the need for a venue for research related to health care outcomes and quality and health policy has increased, and AC&R has developed an identity as the premier outlet for these types of research.
Like children who leave the parental home for college—aware of the risks of independence to the parent as well as the offspring—AC&R is now mature enough to thrive on its own. The American College of Rheumatology's Board of Directors has voted to separate the journals, effective January 1, 2010. From that point forward, AC&R will be an independent journal, not just a section of A&R with a subtitle, and will compete, we believe successfully, in the increasingly competitive world of rheumatology journals. We base this belief on a devoted community of readers and authors for AC&R as well as A&R, both of which span the globe.
AC&R, thus, regains its independent identity on its masthead with the first issue of 2010, having been given the wherewithal to succeed by the College, A&R, and especially by its readers and authors.