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Ten years and counting

Donald W. Black, MD


It has been my pleasure to serve as editor-in-chief of Annals of Clinical Psychiatry since 2004, after taking over from founding editor, Charles L. Rich, MD. He provided an independent and rigorous review of each submission, and eschewed any hint of author bias. In an editorial accompanying the first issue in March 1989, he wrote that the intent of Annals was to bridge the gap between researchers and practitioners and to “seek material that is as scientifically meritorious as it is clinically meaningful.” This has been the organizing principle of Annals and the American Academy of Clinical Psychiatrists (AACP): to bring clinicians and researchers together to enhance one another’s work. I believe we have succeeded.

Annals represents what has become rare: a journal owned by a professional society. Other societies have struggled to maintain membership and stay above water. To do so, many have sold assets, or reduced their mission; some have gone out of business. The AACP has thrived because it fulfills a unique mission in psychiatry and because of our partnership with Frontline Medical Communications (publishers of Current Psychiatry). For 6 years we have jointly developed high quality CME meetings that feature prominent speakers. The partnership also includes publishing Annals and maintaining AACP.com.

Among the many changes implemented in the past 10 years are the following:

  • A redesign. Once dowdy, the journal is now attractive and user-friendly. The contents appear on the front cover along with eye-catching art. The print is readable and articles have a uniform style. Abstracts are structured for easy reading.

  • The editorial process has been streamlined. Submissions are initially screened by me, and those with promise are sent on to a panel of peer reviewers. I then make an initial decision, but often seek a revision. The entire process is quick, typically taking 33.5 days from submission to acceptance.

  • Two articles per issue are available online ahead of publication.

  • Special issues devoted to a single topic appear regularly. In the last few years we have published special issues on the Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments guidelines and autism spectrum disorders.

  • We publish single case reports that present novel observations and could lead to important new findings.

The most frequently cited papers published since 2008 according to Google Scholar are emblematic of what I look for in submissions: papers that are useful for clinicians presenting either original data or comprehensive reviews.

1. Fiedorowicz J, Palagummi N, Forman-Hoffman V, et al. Elevated prevalence of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular risk factors in bipolar disorder. Ann Clin Psychiatry. 2008;20:131-137.

2. Rossignol DA. Novel and emerging treatments for autism spectrum disorders: a systematic review. Ann Clin Psychiatry. 2009;21:213-236.

3. Weder N, Murallee S, Penland H, et al. Catatonia: a review. Ann Clin Psychiatry. 2008;20:97-107.

4. Krystal AD, Thakur M, Roth T. Sleep disturbance in psychiatric disorders: effects on function and quality of life in mood disorders, alcoholism, and schizophrenia. Ann Clin Psychiatry. 2008;20:39-46.

5. Philip NS, Mello K, Carpenter LL, et al. Patterns of quetiapine use in psychiatric inpatients: an examination of off-label use. Ann Clin Psychiatry. 2008;20:15-20.

I am concerned that mindless neuroscience is replacing clinical and translational science in journals. These articles typically involve obscure molecular genetic or brain imaging findings that either are unreplicated or have no potential to improve or enhance patient care. I will take up this issue in my next editorial.

A long-standing AACP tradition is to honor the first author of the best paper published during the prior year in Annals. This year’s winner was Boaz Levy, PhD, for his paper “Recovery of cognitive functioning in patients with co-occurring bipolar disorder and alcohol dependence during early remission from an acute mood episode” coauthored by Emily Manove, JD, and Roger D. Weiss, MD, (Ann Clin Psychiatry. 2012;24:143-154). We look forward to future contributions from our talented colleague.

Donald W. Black, MD