How Did We End Up With so Many Medical Journals?

An Interview With Former JACC Editor Dr DeMaria

Ileana L. Piña, MD, MPH; Anthony N. DeMaria, MD


January 18, 2018

Ileana L. Piña, MD, MPH: Hello. I'm Ileana Piña from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and the Montefiore Einstein Medical Center, and this is my blog.

I want to welcome everyone to Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics (TCT) 2017 at the Denver Convention Center, where it has turned very cold today. I am thrilled to have one of my guests today, Anthony DeMaria, who is the past editor of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC). You were a JACC editor for 12 years?

Anthony N. DeMaria, MD: 12 years, yes.

Dr Piña: What's life like after JACC?

Dr DeMaria: I put so much time in and read so many manuscripts for 12 years that when I was done, there was a certain anxiety. What am I going to do with all of this time on my hands? Of course, there were a lot of people who approached me about doing one thing or another. Ultimately, there is always something to do. I got grants again. My grants had withered away.

Dr Piña: You have a new journal.

Innovation Versus Inertia

Dr DeMaria: I got some grants, and we started a structural heart journal (Structural Heart: The Journal of the Heart Team). It is the only journal devoted to structural heart disease—which, of course, is expanding in the healthcare team. That's taken up a fair bit of time. I find it hard to know exactly what keeps me busy so much.

There's a lot of inertia built into the journal system.

Dr Piña: You're obviously busy. You had a great team at the University of California, San Diego for the journal to work with you. You brought that journal up considerably. I still have the first issue of JACC when we switched from the American Journal of Cardiology to JACC. You really brought it up, and the ratings have been fabulous.

Dr DeMaria: That was gratifying because there's a lot of inertia built into the journal system. If you're a top-rated journal, then people are automatically going to submit to you. Getting there was something that was fun. I don't think there's a substantial amount of difference among the top-tier journals; nevertheless, there is some gentlemanly competition.

Dr Piña: Yes, some fun competition. You oversaw the birth of the subspecialty "baby" journals.

Dr DeMaria: That was one of our contributions. It was interesting because we were very uncertain. We didn't want to take on any of our constituencies. We didn't want to offend the heart failure group.

Dr Piña: You didn't want to make us angry.

Dr DeMaria: Yes. After a long time studying, we said, "Let's just try intervention and imaging," because those were two areas where there wasn't a prominent journal. We went very carefully, and then about 8 months later, Joseph Loscalzo at Circulation trumped me with five specialty journals. He launched all five at one time.

Dr Piña: For the audience, that's the Circulation editor.

Dr DeMaria: That was interesting. Now, of course, all of the journals, including European Heart Journal, have babies.

Dr Piña: There are so many journals now, some that I don't even recognize. You get an email asking you to send your paper here or there. The field has gotten clogged.

Dr DeMaria: The open-access business is where they just put it online, and the author pays. There are a lot of poor journals out there—poor from the standpoint of quality.

Dr Piña: The review is not the same either.

Dr DeMaria: Maybe nonexistent. In fact, I not only get invited to submit papers to those journals, but you get invited to be on the editorial board of journals in physics and biology.

Dr Piña: Yes, even the general biology journals. I've always told the fellows, when they have a paper that looks really good, to go ahead and send it to the top-tier journals. The one thing you will get is a superb review. Even if they don't accept it, you'll get a good review that will make the paper better. The people reviewing are experts in their field because that's what you always did. You sent them out to people who knew what they were doing.

You've left JACC in very good shape, and I think the journal is still doing well.

Dr DeMaria: It's doing well. It's an editorial philosophy—when you get a manuscript, you can either see yourself as an obstetrician or an abortionist. If you're an abortionist, you're saying, "I've got 120 papers, and I can only publish eight; which ones can I get rid of?" If you're an obstetrician, you're saying, "There's something good here. Let's tell them what it would take to make it better." It's a philosophical choice.

Dr Piña: You learn a lot. I want to thank you for your time here today. It's really great catching up with you again and hearing about what you're doing. I want to thank my audience for joining us today from TCT. This is Ileana Piña, signing off. Have a great day.


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