The post of editor-in-chief for Clinical Medicine (ClinMed), the oldest journal of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), is open from early 2024 and represents an exciting position both from the perspective of participation in college activities, but also specifically with regard to the responsibilities of academic publishing. This blog is an introduction to the potential and fun of the post.
It is a post that suits the individual with a mixed range of skills, given the multiple roles that are encompassed by the job. Firstly, you will be a clinician and scientist with a broad vision of the physician’s role. As such, you will define the journal’s evolving mission. The chance to shape the delivery of scientific clinical content to the widest physician community is an especially exciting moment for the incoming editor. The post-pandemic landscape has seen changes in the demands of the readership, which adds to the potential of the post. Having a vision to engage via all digital platforms both within and outside the RCP is core to that aspect. You will not need to be an accountant, but being able to understand the economic context of contemporary publishing and how this fits with the RCP’s direction of travel is important.
You will be a relationship builder – beyond the relationship with the college membership and the wider readership, there is the importance of developing the authorship. ClinMed is now a well-established and impactful journal, and is on a journey to enhance the scientific quality of the content while remaining clinically relevant. This has entailed bringing on emerging authors beyond just submitting case studies. Engagement with young clinicians and academics at conferences and other forums is a key part of the job that brings value both to the journal and to the wider RCP.
Another key relationship is with the small but dedicated publishing team in the RCP – they have enormous expertise and wisdom, which is generously shared. They will help you to hit the ground running. Their talents and those of the editorial board are key to delivering the vision which you bring to the post. An engaged editorial board who act as critical friends is vital to the health of the journal, and building an energetic board is a crucial responsibility. You will inherit a talented set of current associate editors representing practice both in the UK and globally, but will have the opportunity to shape the board as you see fit, due to terms of current members coming up periodically over time.
You will be a physician with experience of the publishing process – there is no requirement to be an academic. ClinMed is a journal for the physician community, not a publication with a high impact factor that publishes basic science. Above all, your experience as a clinician – and the experience of your associate editors – will shape the content that you commission and accept for publication. That chance to be part of influencing the practice of medicine is one of the core joys of the job. Familiarity with the publishing process will mean that you can confidently handle the manuscripts that come in, and make prompt decisions about what needs further input from your expert associate editors and what can be declined as being out of scope or of insufficient quality. You will also handle the ethical issues that frequently arise around medical publishing – familiarity with these, as well as the opportunity to access available expertise, is an invaluable compass for these occasionally thorny problems.
Finally, you will be an ambassador – for the journal and the RCP of course, but also for the wider importance of dissemination of medical knowledge and for the support of your fellow physicians. The journal is a valued benefit for many members of the RCP – being available to listen to colleagues and using that to shape the content of the journal is a golden opportunity.
On a personal note, I have loved the gig – I have served presidents and college officers who have been welcoming, encouraging and supportive, and from whom I have learned so much. I have had the camaraderie of working with great colleagues in the editorial and publishing trenches. I have learned enormously from the submissions. Above all, that aspect of being part of the knowledge dissemination to influence patient care is the aspect that brings the greatest satisfaction.
I would be more than happy to discuss the role informally with any interested parties – please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can find more detail and a job description at www.rcp.ac.uk/education-practice/volunteering/appointment-new-editor-chief-clinical-medicine-0