The Evolution of a Journal
“The primary reason to publish is because the future of the profession depends upon it.”
This issue, the first of 2008, is the transition issue during our change in editors. Both of us have things we want to say at this juncture in the journal's history. It is important to us that this is a joint editorial, because sharing this space reflects our partnership in making this changeover in the journal's leadership.
FROM THE OUTGOING EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
As I step down, it is my pleasure and honor to introduce Frances E. Likis, CNM, NP, DrPH, as the 13th Editor-in-Chief in the history of the Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health. Francie has been in every editorial role we have: deputy editor, associate editor, contributing editor for journal reviews, and peer reviewer. This journal will continue to grow under her leadership. Francie will introduce herself and her vision later on in this editorial. But transitions are an opportune time for reflection, and I have been thinking a lot about what I want to say in my last editorial as Editor-in-Chief.
For the last 6 years, every time I opened a new manuscript I thought, What is the purpose of JMWH? Does this manuscript say something CNMs/CMs and other women's health care providers need or want to know about? Every time I made a decision to accept or reject a manuscript, I thought, What is the responsibility of this journal to ‘give voice’ to this author, this idea, or this news? Could this article help further the growth of the midwifery profession?
You probably skim through the table of contents every 2 months and look for items meaningful to you. In contrast, every aspect of this journal, every page in each issue, has lived with us every day, just as it “lived” for every past and every future editor. … every day. Therefore, more than anything else, I want to share how this journal is a living, growing, evolving, essential reflection of our profession. And through that lens, I want you to see why I believe midwifery is thriving.
As we have moved into the 21st century, both the profession and the journal have integrated new technological realities. Midwives in clinical practice use PDAs to access evidence-based guidelines. We have learned new gynecologic skills to help give women more reproductive choice, and we have adapted computer technologies to expand access to midwifery education. JMWH has also moved from using paper and the US Post Office to having a Web site, access to all articles online, and a new web-based submission system that serves authors, reviewers, and the editors.
All articles published in these print and online pages have been through the filter of multiple questions about accuracy, validity (“Does the author articulate this thesis well?”), ethical standards, and importance to the profession. In order to accommodate the increase in both quantity and variety of submissions that has occurred in the last 4 years, I have been joined by two deputy editors, Patricia Aikins Murphy, CNM, DrPH, who has been a member of the JMWH editorial board for many years, and Francie Likis. Both Patty and Francie contribute expertise in areas I am not familiar with to the editorial team. We have also expanded the roles of our editorial consultants, relied heavily on those with expertise in statistics and qualitative methodologies, and added more than 40 new peer reviewers. Today, we often request and receive reviews from non-midwife experts who are not on our regular peer review panel.
These changes in structure are a reflection of the changes in the content you read. Both the midwifery profession and this journal have more interdisciplinary connections than ever before. Midwives are working as researchers, hospitalists, primary care providers, sexual assault examiners, teachers in medical schools, and as faculty in nursing schools. By fortunate chance, the articles in this issue provide the perfect illustration; you will find the results of research germane to the practice of midwifery that was conducted by multidisciplinary research teams in several different university settings: an obstetrics and gynecology department, a school of public health, and a department of health and rehabilitation services. The results of midwifery research in both the United States and Australia are represented. Midwifery is a global profession and midwives today are integrated in all fields related to health care services.
Almost all professions have a peer-reviewed journal. The essential purpose of every peer-reviewed journal in health care is two-fold: first, to provide a forum for members of the profession to share research results, new ideas, and clinical updates; and secondly, to represent the content and “body” of this profession to other health care professionals. As I compare the stack of manuscripts sitting on a shelf in the ACNM national office that greeted me in October 2001 to the daily increasing number of “new manuscript assignment” notices that the web-based system sends to my email, I have many thoughts. First and foremost I want to thank everyone on the editorial board for incredible support. And as I step down from this position, I hope you, our readers, see how the content published in this journal reflects a profession that is growing, expanding into areas of health care outside of maternal–child health, evolving, and … thriving. Thank you.
FROM THE INCOMING EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
In thinking about my first editorial, I contemplated what readers of the Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health would want to know about their new Editor-in-Chief. The questions that came to mind were: Who is this person and what does she bring to this position? Why does she want to be Editor-in-Chief of this journal? And what are her goals as Editor-in-Chief? Here are my thoughts on each of these questions.
Although I am relatively young in this profession, I bring a wide variety of experience to this position. As a midwife and a nurse-practitioner with a doctorate in public health, I have a multidisciplinary education and perspective. My clinical experience includes midwifery practice in a large private practice attending hospital births and in a freestanding birth center, as well as primary care practice in urgent care and community health centers. Like most midwives, I am passionate about birth, but I am equally passionate about reproductive health. I have been a teacher throughout my career, first as a preceptor and guest lecturer and later as a faculty member. That experience is particularly relevant because I believe that a good editor is a good teacher. Last but certainly not least, I am an experienced editor, author, and reviewer. This range of experience gives me a unique and expansive vision as your Editor-in-Chief.
My dedication to JMWH was initially fueled by my commitment to the midwifery profession. Several years ago, as an aspiring JMWH author, I was struck by the generous advice and guidance provided by this editorial board. As I have continued to work as a member of the JMWH editorial board, I've observed the consistent commitment to mentoring. Our Editor Emeritus, Mary Ann Shah, CNM, MS, set the bar for “midwifing” authors and reviewers. Editor-in-Chief Tekoa King, CNM, MPH, and Deputy Editor Patricia Aikins Murphy, CNM, DrPH, have worked tirelessly to continue that tradition. It is important to me that this journal values developing the skills of authors and reviewers so that our profession's voice will continue to grow stronger.
My goal is to maintain the high standards of this well-respected journal while supporting its continued evolution. The journal's content must be relevant and accessible to all of our readers, whether they are clinicians, researchers, or in other roles. The commitment to mentoring authors and reviewers must continue. The success of the journal rests in my hands, but it is shared by the hands of many. I am fortunate that Tekoa and Patty have agreed to continue as Deputy Editors, because the three of us work extraordinarily well together as a team. The rest of the editorial board is being formed and will be announced in the next issue. I consider the feedback from our readers, authors, and reviewers essential, and ask you to feel free to contact me at any time with your comments.
The quotation from Margretta Styles1 at the beginning of this editorial is one that I came across as a budding writer. Styles’ words continue to speak to me because I believe publication really is that important. As your new Editor-in-Chief, I look forward to leading this journal in helping the midwifery profession to not only survive but thrive.