Sixty years ago this month, the then-named Industrial Medical Association, after a lapse of many years without a regular scientific periodical publication of its own, launched a new scientific journal called the Journal of Occupational Medicine. Although the organization and its journal have continued to change over the intervening years to reflect the advances in the field and changes in society, the organization, now the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM), and the journal, now the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (JOEM), have continued to thrive. For those of you interested in more details of this history, I can highly recommend the recent editorial by Smith and Guidotti1 in the January 2016, issue of JOEM in celebration of ACOEM's one-hundredth anniversary. Here, I would just like to underscore some of the highlights of that past, the status at the present, and perhaps glimpses of the future.
As described by Smith and Guidotti,1 the success of the journal over the past 60 years has been the result of a team effort. As the current editor, I have been most fortunate to inherit a rich tradition established by the past editors who were true luminaries and visionaries in the field starting with Adolph G. Kammer and following with his successors Edward V. Henson, Robert B. O’Conner, Carey P. McCord, Irving R. Tabershaw, Robert E. Eckhart, and Lloyd B. Tepper. If I have had any small measure of success during my tenure as editor, it has surely been due to being able to stand on the shoulders of these giants. As Smith and Guidotti1 also note, their successes were dependent on the diligence and hard work of the managing editors, including Doris L. Flournoy, Elizabeth L. Popper, Marjory Spraycar, and currently Stacieann Yuhasz. In addition, there have been many other unsung heroes over the years, including the leadership of the College, the members of the Editorial Board, the funders of the research, all of the authors who have submitted papers and the reviewers who have critiqued them, the staff at the publishers, and, of course, the readers who have presumably found some value from all these efforts.
Unfortunately, measuring the real value of these efforts for any publication is not as simple as it seems. Most journals refer to the Impact Factor,2 which basically measures recent citations to papers published in the journal. By this measure, the value of JOEM has increased consistently and markedly over time by more than 10-fold since its inception to the present. By other more recent and refined measures, for example, the Eigen Factor,2 JOEM also ranks highly. However, these measures mostly represent value to the scientific community, whereas, I would hope the real value comes from the journal's impact outside of academia by influencing occupational and environmental practice resulting in improvements to the health and well-being of workers and communities.
Therefore, my hope for the future of JOEM is that going forward it will contribute to even greater improvements in the health of the populations we serve. It will be able to do this most effectively by embracing all of the traditional scientific areas of occupational and environmental medicine as well as incorporating all of the emerging ones. Thus, as it has done in the past, JOEM will continue to cover relevant advances in toxicology and epidemiology while also focusing on current concerns such as health and productivity and climate change and looking forward to dealing with the future impacts from informatics/computing (from big data to artificial intelligence) and bionics (from robotics to neuroergonomics). We may not know exactly what the field of occupational and environmental medicine will become in the years ahead, but whatever it is, you can bet that you will continue to find the latest and the best on it in JOEM.
1. Smith DR, Guidotti TL. History of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. J Occup Environ Med
2. Satyanarayana K. Impact factor and other indices to assess science, scientists and scientific journals. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol