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I write my first editorial for Clin Biochem Rev with excitement in anticipation of what can be achieved. As A/Prof. Howard Morris, my predecessor, commented in his valedictory editorial in the previous issue, there has been considerable debate over the role and content of Clin Biochem Rev for the duration of its existence.1 I agreed to take over the editorship of this journal because of my belief in its future; not that it would just continue as before, but that it would evolve with technological advances to be highly relevant to the needs of its current and potential readership locally, regionally and internationally. While the journal is primarily aimed at the needs of its readers, we are also aware of its dependence on authors who contribute manuscripts. Publication in a peer-reviewed journal signifies recognition and acceptance by fellow scientists. As the only peer-reviewed journal in the discipline of Clinical Biochemistry in the Australasian region, Clin Biochem Rev should have a niche market both in readership and contributors. However, there is no room for complacency as in a rapidly shrinking world with disappearing borders we compete with the best journals produced worldwide. Hence the need for indexation on MEDLINE. We will achieve this; it is only a question of when. In this context, it is important to acknowledge the excellent job done by the previous editorial team in bringing Clin Biochem Rev forward to this point.
I firmly believe that the main role for Clin Biochem Rev is in the continuing professional development of established clinical laboratory professionals and the education of trainees in laboratory medicine. The new editorial team, with an expanded editorial board, will aim to keep the profession informed of important developments by commissioning review articles from leaders and experts in the field. Unsolicited contributions will be most welcome, and all articles will go through a peer review process. Whereas less than 5% of papers appearing in current medical journals contain a message that is both scientifically sound and relevant to doctors,2 we will aim to remain relevant to the needs of readers. A new feature that has been introduced in this issue is Guidelines Review. Articles in this section will highlight and briefly summarise newly adopted or published guidelines that are relevant to clinical laboratory scientists in order to keep them up to date with such guidelines. Unsolicited contributions to this section are also welcome.
When we look to the future we are aware of the changes happening in the field of scientific publishing. With the advent of electronic publishing and the World Wide Web, the demise of paper-based biomedical publications has been forecast with confidence.3 Electronic publications have the advantage of reaching its audience quickly. Clin Biochem Rev achieves a turn-around-time of less than two months that would be the envy of any paper-based peer-reviewed scientific publication. This is achieved due to the prompt review of manuscripts by our referees and the efficient publication process at the AACB office. One of the major problems with biomedical journals is their lack of accessibility and the cost involved with obtaining articles.4 Open publication on the World Wide Web gives much greater exposure than subscription based paper publications. However, for most scientific publications currently available on the World Wide Web, an electronic subscription is needed to access full-text articles. Non-subscribers have to pay considerable amounts of money to purchase individual articles. Having Clin Biochem Rev articles freely available on the World Wide Web would be useful to the scientific profession internationally. It should also improve the journal's influence and impact by the vastly increased exposure. We will work towards achieving this in the near future.
Having the print version available electronically on the World Wide Web is only the first step. The electronic version with hypertext links to relevant sources and related material as well as the availability of additional data not included in the print article will be a great advance. Articles can also be updated on a regular basis when new developments occur. Electronic publishing also allows immediate feedback and discussion, which the BMJ has successfully introduced. It has been asserted that the prima lingua of scientific communication is PowerPoint.5 The use of multimedia format with videos and sound is already happening on the World Wide Web and there is no reason why peer reviewed publications could not make use of them. The AACB has been at the forefront of technological developments in scientific communications with the NITTY lectures and the MISER broadcasts. Clin Biochem Rev should benefit from tapping into this experience and expertise. The only prediction I am prepared to make about the future of Clin Biochem Rev is that it will be exciting.