This issue of the journal includes the first article in a new JGIM series: Clinical Updates. For years many of our readers have enjoyed the concise summaries of recent studies and guidelines relevant to the practice of general internal medicine presented at the annual national meeting of the Society of General Internal Medicine (SGIM). This year for the first time, we invited presenters of Clinical Updates at the national SGIM meeting to submit their reports as manuscripts for peer review and potential publication in JGIM. Most JGIM readers are already familiar with written reports of Clinical Updates in other journals such as Annals of Internal Medicine. Our intention in creating a Clinical Updates feature in JGIM is to provide similar, complementary reports on topics that may not appear in other journals.

In this issue, Smetana and colleagues provide a summary of recent important studies in perioperative medicine. Their work illustrates well the purposes, methods, and format of Clinical Updates in JGIM. As we developed and refined specific criteria for publication, several features seemed essential. First, authors must have used a systematic, explicit method for locating studies for potential review. Systematic implies a well-defined topic and time frame from which studies were selected. Explicit means including enough information on the search methods so that, at least in principle, readers could reproduce the results. Second, articles should be selected for inclusion by topical relevance and methodological strength. Topical relevance implies immediate applicability to the practice of general internal medicine, rather than studies that are exploratory, of theoretical interest, or with only long-term implications for clinical practice. Methodological strength is related mainly to study design and sample size. In topical areas without well-done randomized trials, finding rigorous evidence can be challenging. We favor including well-done cohort and case-control studies with representative populations, and excluding case series and case reports. Finally, selected articles should be concisely summarized in a way useful to readers. This will usually include a brief statement of the clinical context of the study (for readers not steeped in that topic area); an evidence-based summary of its methods, main findings, and limitations; and a concluding statement providing evidence-based guidance on the clinical applications of the study results.

Keeping up with the literature is a challenge for every practitioner. We hope that the JGIM Clinical Updates will provide readily accessible, concise, and clinically relevant summaries to improve patient care. As we continue to develop and refine Clinical Updates, we look forward to your feedback on how we are doing, and on ways to improve this new feature of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.