My, how these 8 years have flown by! I have spent >40 years toiling in the hypertension vineyards, and I look forward to continued productivity in our area. Over these decades, I have been truly blessed with developing deep friendships, helping young scientists begin their academic careers in research and education, working in the experimental and clinical research arenas, and treating many patients with hypertensive disease. Clearly, working with our journal Hypertension these 8 years has been among these rewarding and satisfying pursuits.
To be sure, when I first entered into this field under the tutelage of Edward D. Freis, I was totally impressed by the ubiquity of hypertension in its severest forms. There was no “evidence base” to identify those patients whose elevated arterial pressure should be treated. There wasn’t even a firm concept on the need for treatment. We only knew that so very many of the hospitalized patients had hypertensive emergencies, stroke, cardiac failure, myocardial infarction, and end-stage renal disease, and there was a plethora of patients in the clinic with untreated and uncontrolled elevation of arterial pressure. Today, most institutions with hypertension programs find that hospital services dedicated to the treatment of hypertensive patients are unnecessary. Physicians admit their patients with stroke, cardiac failure, severe cardiac dysrhythmias, myocardial infarction, or end-stage renal disease to specific inpatient services, and those patients with other problems are usually admitted to general internal medicine services for their care. Yes, hypertension and its treatment has certainly come a very long and satisfying way. And, so has our journal.
Over these years, I have also derived much pleasure and satisfaction working with our Council for High Blood Pressure Research and its parent organization, the American Heart Association. I have thoroughly enjoyed my membership and service to the council, including each of its annual fall scientific meetings, and being an active advocate for its scientific commitments and our journal from its conception.
On assuming editorship of this journal, we were primarily committed to publishing the best of the hypertension-related papers in all of its aspects. This commitment required that we deal with the increasing number of investigative reports that focus on the newer and burgeoning areas of genetics and molecular biology, new areas that were developing that bridged the murky interface between hypertension and atherosclerosis, as well as the established areas of biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, and the myriad of areas concerned with clinical investigation, ranging from healthcare policy to epidemiology to patient management and healthcare outcomes.
In 1994, the journal received 617 papers, and we were committed to increasing submissions from investigators all over the world so that Hypertension would be the preeminent journal in the world, publishing the cutting edge of hypertension-related research. We were desirous to publish more clinically oriented research, to bring newer active investigators into our overall review process, and to diminish the time for the initial review process while shortening the time from submission to publication. We were determined to help provide a sense of history to our hypertension field, and we wanted to make certain that if the fall scientific sessions of the council were to be claimed “the best of the best,” the most competitively selected of the submitted papers from that meeting were entitled to be published very rapidly. Indeed, we have succeeded in achieving most of these goals.
The data justify our pride in Hypertension. We anticipate that the annual submissions of manuscripts to our journal will exceed 1400 in 2001; over one half are now clinically oriented and 53% emanated from laboratories outside the United States. Our impact factor is higher, by far, than others in ours and related fields. The time required for initial review has been reduced to 4 weeks for the past several years, thanks to the introduction of computer innovations. Moreover, there is no doubt that with the introduction of the newer technologic achievements, our following team will be able to improve current levels of performance. However, we must be aware that our investigative journal is in a relatively circumscribed area of research, and it would be inappropriate to compare our impact factor with journals having a more general scope (eg, Cell, New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of Clinical Investigation, Circulation). Nevertheless, over this past year, our impact factor has continued to increase significantly from 4.93 to 5.31, a score far greater than for any other hypertension journal (by >70%), and this compares with 4.49 in 1993. This concept is very important to understand because many academic institutions use the impact factor for faculty promotion and similar indices of achievement. With respect to the development of a sense of history, we celebrated each month of our 20th anniversary year by saluting leaders in our field, and we have highlighted our founders and leaders by publishing featured “In Memoria” honoring them when this occurred. The peer-reviewed papers presented at the annual fall scientific sessions are now published within 3 months of these programs thanks to the chairs of the council’s publishing committee, who worked closely, hand-in-hand, with our journal’s capable office staff and our publisher.
Unfortunately, while we were able to reduce the publication time to within 2 months of acceptance of a manuscript, this elapse time has recently increased to ≈4 months. This is because although the number of manuscripts submitted has increased by >2-fold and the priority scoring has increased markedly over these years, we have not been granted any additional pages for scientific publication of these highly competing reports by the Association. This is not a new problem for the editors Hypertension. Indeed, Edgar Haber (Hypertension. 1988;11:1–2) stated the following in an editorial as he began his fifth and final year of editorship:
“… One might argue very persuasively that if a major mission of the AHA is the support of research, the dissemination of the fruits of that research should at least be a worthy secondary mission. Why then are the journals to be viewed only as a potential source of revenue rather than as an intrinsic part of what the AHA needs to foster and support?
“As an editor, I would like to argue this case before the Committee, yet my fellow editors and I are excluded from its main deliberations. In 1979, the Steering Committee appropriately ruled that the editors be ‘ex-officio members of the Publication Committee with a vote on all matters except those having to do with publications budget.’ In 1984, however, the Task Force recognized a broader conflict of interest and recommended that ‘the five editors shall not serve as ex-officio members of the Publications Committee.’ I expect that in the long run, this ruling will be perceived as an arbitrary exclusion of the editors from the vital function of defending the integrity of their journals and undoubtedly will impair the AHA’s ability to recruit our successors from among the most qualified candidates.”
Today, 14 years after these comments, I am compelled to share these prophetic sentiments of Ed Haber.
So now we take leave of the stewardship of Hypertension. The journal and its conduct of affairs will be in the very capable hands of Dr John Hall and his colleagues from the University of Mississippi. As you all know, John is chairman of its Department of Physiology and Biophysics (successor to the esteemed Dr Arthur C. Guyton), principle author of Dr Guyton’s famed textbook of physiology, past chair of the Council for High Blood Pressure, current president of the American Physiological Society and of the Inter-American Society of Hypertension, and a major leader in the American Society of Hypertension. With these outstanding credentials, we can be certain that Hypertension will be in excellent and capable hands.
Thus, once again, editing this journal has been an unparalleled delight and privilege. It has been a constant joy with much satisfaction to work personally and professionally with by outstanding scientific colleagues, Drs Richard N. Re and N. Gabriel Navar, and our outstanding, constantly pleasant, and always willing to help and support editorial office staff. And, specifically, I want to thank Debby Smith, Irene Hebert, and Tracy Chi for their personal interest and meticulous care of their work and responsibilities. When we were asked to continue with the journal for another 6 months until John Hall could assume editorship, without a second thought they volunteered to remain with their responsibilities until that time. Of course, none of our efforts would have been successful without a superb editorial board (most of whom have reviewed and arbitrated over one manuscript monthly) and the >1700 reviewers some of whom are listed below. Once again, Richard Re, Gabriel Navar, and I thank you, our readers and authors, for your many letters, e-mails and facsimiles of support and good wishes.
We are confident and pleased the condition of the journal is “hale and hearty,” and we know that John Hall and his colleagues will continue to maintain its leadership role in the field. After over eight years, we shall miss the daily responsibilities. Our work and service has been a genuine pleasure!