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Celebrating the Harvard Review of Psychiatry’s 25th Year

Greenfield, Shelly F. MD, MPH

doi: 10.1097/HRP.0000000000000140
Editor in Chief’s Introduction

*Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA. Email:

With this issue the Harvard Review of Psychiatry celebrates its 25th year of publication. This is an auspicious time to reflect on a quarter century of progress in our field’s understanding of the etiology and treatment of psychiatric disorders, including changes in the epidemiology of psychiatric disorders, advances in our understanding of the complex neurobiology of these disorders, and the contributions of genetics and epigenetics to the onset psychiatric disorders, as well as progress in developing, testing, and disseminating evidence-based treatments for psychiatric disorders that affect individuals through the lifespan.

The first issue of HRP was published in May 1993 with an introduction by the founding co-editors, Joseph T. Coyle, MD, and Steven M. Mirin, MD. In their introductory editorial, Drs. Coyle and Mirin noted that psychiatry was increasingly being informed by advances in “neuroscience, clinical psychopharmacology, genetics, cognitive psychology, epidemiology, and mental health services research” and that the journal was initiated to fill the need for a “peer-reviewed publication that would provide succinct, readily understood, and authoritative reviews of the current approaches to psychiatric diagnosis and treatment.”1(p 1) With that mission, HRP was launched, and now—24 years and 144 issues later—we celebrate the beginning of our 25th publishing year of cutting-edge, clinically relevant, and comprehensive reviews and perspectives in our field.

HRP’s first issue featured articles on behavioral inhibition in childhood, strategies for augmentation for treatment-resistant obsessive-compulsive disorder, suicide risk in HIV-positive patients, temporal lobe abnormalities in schizophrenia, the neurobiology of antipsychotic treatment, psychiatrists as expert witnesses, financing of mental health services and national health care reform, and the need for more residents in psychiatry to increase workforce capacity. From that initial published issue through the next quarter century, HRP has succeeded in consistently providing this broad and comprehensive approach to the expanding knowledge base in psychiatry and mental health. The journal has continuously published reviews, perspectives, clinical challenges and columns representing the full scope of our science and practice.

HRP has been a pioneer in psychiatric publishing on a number of fronts. Since its inception in 1993, HRP has used a double-blind peer-review system such that reviewers are blind to the authorship of the article they are reviewing, and authors are blind to the identities of their peer reviewers, thus reducing potential bias in the peer-review process.2HRP was also among the first psychiatric journals to provide case discussions in the form of Clinical Challenges and to recognize patients’ rights to privacy by initiating patient informed consent for clinical cases (even though they are published in a format that disguises what would otherwise be readily identifiable information). In 2001, the journal initiated twice-yearly special issues that provide comprehensive reviews around specific themes. In my introduction to our 20th publishing year,3 I outlined the range and scope of the special issues published between 2001 and 2011. Since 2012, HRP has published special issues providing comprehensive reviews of new research on the neurobiology and treatment of specific psychiatric disorders such as borderline personality disorder (2016), schizophrenia (2016), addiction (2015), bipolar disorder (2015), and autism spectrum disorders (2014). Recognizing the mental health needs and emerging research in special populations, HRP published a special issue on college mental health (2012) and another on the mental health care of older adults (2015). As a number of high-profile reports emerged on the critical need for greater attention to global mental health, HRP was fortunate to receive invited submissions from international experts and published a special issue focused on the barriers to, and opportunities for, closing resource gaps in global mental health through innovation, capacity building, and partnerships (2012). In 2017, volume 25 of HRP will feature a special issue on the use of mobile and Web-based technologies in psychiatry (May/June, issue 25:3) and a special issue on psychiatry, neuroscience, and the law (November/December, issue 25:6). In addition, we will publish brief 25th-anniversary special columns providing insights on advances in research and clinical practice in psychiatry over the last quarter century. These brief columns will also offer informed opinions regarding the potential for future applications in clinical practice of ongoing translational neuroscience and molecular research in psychiatry.

Over the last several years, HRP has worked to serve its readers and reviewers through translated editions, and new technology and learning applications. While the journal remains principally published in English, over its publishing history the journal has at various times been translated into Greek, Turkish, and Spanish, and these translated issues have been disseminated in Greece, Turkey, and Mexico, respectively. Since 2012, readers of HRP have been able to obtain continuing medical education credit for articles published in each issue. Peer reviewers can also benefit from continuing education credits for the time they invest in reading and critiquing articles submitted to HRP. Using available search engines and social media, the journal’s contents throughout its publication years can now be searched on Ovid. Readers can access video abstracts and introductions on the HRP website (, keep up with new content on the journal’s Facebook page (, and follow journal news on Twitter (@HarvardRevPsych). The journal’s 2015 impact factor was 2.3, which ranked in the top third of social-science psychiatry journals and the top half of science-sector psychiatry journals.

One other critically important and innovative aspect of the Harvard Review of Psychiatry is, to my knowledge unique, though it has not been previously discussed in print. Since its inception, the journal has benefited from the dedication and hard work of assistant editors who are drawn from the Harvard Medical School Department of Psychiatry’s many psychiatry residency and fellowship training programs. Over the past 22 years, I have been fortunate to work with 71 talented residents and fellows who have contributed, alongside senior editors, editorial staff, and members of the editorial board, to the journal’s success. I am not aware of another peer-reviewed, ISI-ranked journal that uses HRP’s model of providing to graduate medical education trainees an experience in which they join the editorial board, participate in weekly staff meetings, and assist with peer review, production, and editorial decision making. The invitation to join HRP as an assistant editor comes after a competitive application process involving adult and child psychiatry residents across all of Harvard’s residency-training programs—Boston Children’s Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard/Longwood, Harvard South Shore, and Massachusetts General/McLean Hospital. At any one time we may have six to ten assistant editors who are active on the editorial staff. Most of our assistant editors participate for two years, but several dozen have requested and received extensions of their service (for example, while pursuing fellowships); some now serve HRP in other editorial capacities (for example, as Column Editors or members of the General Editorial Board); and many have pursued academic careers and have joined medical school faculties across the country.

Our assistant editors are an integral part of the journal’s editorial operation. In exchange, we provide an immersive experience in the academic peer-review process along with robust discussions about publishing ethics, changing technology and its utilization in publishing, the optimal balance of content representing the scope of the field, the use of available published and digital pages for content, the best approach to reviewing articles to optimize the peer-review process, and the manifold factors that come into play in editorial decision making, as well as the complexity of the production process that is necessary to produce a high-quality, peer-reviewed journal. In this way HRP has contributed to the education of the next generation of psychiatric researchers, clinicians, and educators in an essential sector of our academic process, comprising peer review, professional ethics, editorial process, and publication and dissemination of new knowledge. With gratitude to our many talented assistant editors through the last 24 years, we have published all of their names below. We are grateful to them, our senior editorial staff, editorial board, and many reviewers—who have all contributed to the remarkable success of the Harvard Review of Psychiatry. We are looking forward to the next 25 years as our field continues to advance new knowledge that contributes to our fundamental understanding of the brain and behavior, the etiology of psychiatric disease, and the most effective treatments for our patients so that they can lead healthy and productive lives.

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1. Coyle JT, Mirin SM. More than another journal. Harv Rev Psychiatry 1993;1:1.
2. Okike K, Hug KT, Kocher MS, Leopold SS. Single-blind vs double-blind peer review in the setting of author prestige. JAMA 2016;316:1315–6.
3. Greenfield SF. The Harvard Review of Psychiatry marks its twentieth year. Harv Rev Psychiatry 2012;20:1–2.

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