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Tribute to Journal Editors

Sullivan, Katherine J. PT, PhD, FAHA

Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy: December 2008 - Volume 32 - Issue 4 - p 220-221
doi: 10.1097/NPT.0b013e31818e8c5f
Section Business: President's Note

President, Neurology Section.

Address correspondence to: Katherine J. Sullivan, E-mail:

This issue of JNPT is an ideal time to pay tribute to all of the medical editors across various professional groups around the world, especially our friend and colleague, Dr. Judith Deutsch, Editor of JNPT for the past nine years. The December 2008 JNPT issue is the last issue under Dr. Deutsch’s direction as Editor. In her final message, Dr. Deutsch outlines the major milestones in the growth and development of JNPT during her tenure. She has been a true maverick in bringing innovation and technology that has facilitated the dissemination of knowledge related to the science and practice of neurologic physical therapy. Innovative methods such as podcasting and webcasting are examples of methods instituted by our editor that have since been emulated by other professional journals.

On a daily, monthly, or, in the case of JNPT, quarterly basis, we take for granted that the medical, peer-reviewed literature that we are reading is of the highest quality and meets standards of integrity and autonomy. What I have learned from my interactions with the JNPT editor and the editorial board is the extraordinary commitment, vision, self-discipline, and personal integrity that our peers make when they agree to serve in these capacities. Some of us may be exposed to the process as peer reviewers of submitted articles or as authors subjecting ourselves to the peer-review process. However, no matter how great one’s pain when a submission is accepted pending 10 pages of requested revisions or, even worse, flat out rejected, there are an infrastructure and process that are ongoing on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis that fall squarely on the shoulders of the editor.

The professional commitment of medical journal editors is extraordinary in many ways. Seldom do they receive compensation even remotely close to the oversight and professional time devoted to their mission and goals. Medical journal editors need to have a broad range of skills including expertise that is well grounded and has a broad perspective in their respective professional or specialty area. They need to be skilled in scientific writing and the editorial process to serve as a consultant to their editorial boards, peer reviewers, and authors. In addition, to professional expertise and skills, they need to be shrewd business executives who can negotiate contracts and mutual agreements with publishing houses, advertisers, and professional executive boards who have vested and fiduciary responsibility to the professional membership.

The need for global standards has become even more essential as global electronic communication networks like the Internet provide access to information that has never been seen before in any other generation. Now medical journal editors have a mutual responsibility to enforce editorial standards worldwide to promote high-quality evidence for practice. In 1995, an independent group of medical journal editors created a global organization of editors of peer-reviewed journals called the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME). The purpose of WAME is “to facilitate worldwide cooperation among editors of peer-reviewed medical journals to enhance the exchange of educational information; to improve editorial standards; to promote the professionalism of medical editing through education, self-criticism, and self-regulation; to expand the voice of and influence of medical editors; to develop mutual support; and to encourage research on the principles and practices of medical editing so as to improve the quality of medical science and practice (” To truly appreciate the scope of responsibility and tremendous professional service provided by our peers who accept the mantle of “Editor,” I share with you the following list of responsibilities developed by WAME that all medical journal editors embrace when they accept their positions as editor.

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Responsibilities of Editors

  1. Editors are responsible to readers and should learn about their needs and interests.
  2. Editors are responsible for safeguarding the rights of study subjects and animals.
  3. Editors are responsible for the editorial content of the journal, that is, the subject matter and types of articles and the actual content of the articles that are published in the journal.
  4. Editors are responsible for establishing the policies for authorship and submission of manuscripts to the journal.
  5. Editors are responsible for establishing and maintaining a process for the constructive, prompt evaluation of manuscripts, whether accepted for publication or not.
  6. Editors are responsible to authors for maintaining the integrity and confidentiality of the authors’ work while that work is being evaluated for publication.
  7. Editors must be willing to make decisions and stand behind them, but be willing to reconsider their decisions when appropriate.
  8. Editors should work to improve not only the quality of manuscripts but also the quality of research in the field.
  9. Editors must be prepared to deal with error and allegations of misbehavior.
  10. Editors should maintain editorial independence and work to ensure that authors have editorial freedom.
  11. Editors must not have personal, financial, or other relationships linked in any way to any of their responsibilities as an editor.
  12. Editors should plan for the future of their journals.

The Neurology Section and JNPT have been fortunate to have had almost a decade with our outgoing editor. Judy has always exceeded the standards of a responsible and respected editor. We greatly appreciate her contribution to our section. There is no doubt that she has positioned us well for the future. Furthermore, there is no question that JNPT is the flagship of our section’s image, valued by our membership for the excellence and relevance of its content. We extend the best of wishes to her in the next phase of her professional career and warmly thank her for the time she has shared with us.

© 2008 Neurology Section, APTA