________________________________________________________________ VOLUME 2, ISSUE 6 THE INTERPSYCH NEWSLETTER JULY, 1995 ________________________________________________________________ SECTION A: EDITORIAL ----------------------------------------------------------- | The following is an invited editorial written by Ivan | | Goldberg, M.D., member of InterPsych's Board of Directors | | and coordinator of five InterPsych forums. | | | | Editorials published in the Newsletter do not represent | | the position or opinion of the Newsletter or its staff | | unless stated otherwise. | | | | Opinions and comments are invited. Please send them | | to the IPN Mailbox: email@example.com | ----------------------------------------------------------- E-JOURNALS AND INTERPSYCH by Ivan Goldberg, M.D. The June 22, 1995 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), contains an editorial by Jerome Kassirer, and Marcia Angell (the Editor-in Chief, and Executive Editor of the NEJM) entitled "The Internet and the Journal." Their editorial is used to announce that the NEJM's policy regarding not publishing previously announced material (the Ingelfinger rule) will treat the publication of material in an electronic journal (e-journal) as it would treat publication in a hard-copy journal. The editorial also also comments unfavorably upon the legitimacy of the publication of medical articles in e-journals. The authors warn is that "direct electronic publishing of scientific studies threatens to undermine time-tested traditions that help to ensure the quality of the medical literature." Their objection to such publishing is based on a number of factors, including the absence of peer-review and revision of the manuscript following such review. Another objection is the uncertain authorship of much of the medical material that appears on Internet. They also object to the easy availability by patients to material published in e-journals, fearing that such availability will lead patients to alter their medications with unfortunate results. The time-tested tradition to which the authors make reference is that of peer-review. A process that mistakenly is thought to provide unbiased evaluations of submitted manuscripts. When looked at objectively, non-blinded peer review has been publication is accepted when the only change has been the institutional affiliation of the author. When the affiliation is a little known mid-western college the manuscript is rejected, when the affiliation is Harvard it is found suitable for publication. Immediate peer-review is one of the features of Internet. When a notice is posted to one of Interpsych's forms, within an hour there are often comments posted about it. No lengthy delays, and no anonymous reviewers. The editors of the NEJM seem to be acting out of unenlightened self-interest when they oppose the development of a system by which research communi- cations would be stored electronically and titles and abstracts distributed via Internet on a daily basis. Such a system would allow such communications to be revised from time to time as additional data became available. The articles, always signed, would be accompanied, when distri- buted by the comments of those who choose to critique them. I would not be surprised if within the next ten years I receive a subscription renewal form from the NEJM that will allow me to choose between receiving the journal either in a hard copy version, or as an e-journal. As InterPsych moves closer to having its own computers and customized software, we will soon be able to produce and offer such electronic publi- cations. Hopefully, each of our forums will choose to produce one or more such e-journals. With such a program of electronic publishing, InterPsych will continue to operate on the forefront of electronic communications. A system such as this will insure that the dissemination of important mental health information will not be delayed by the slow moving process that culminates in the snail mailing of print journals to their subscri- bers.