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Can J Cardiol. 2009 December; 25(12): 679–681.
PMCID: PMC2807825

Passing the torch

Eldon R Smith, OC MD FRCPC, Editor-in-Chief

This issue of the Journal marks a couple of milestones. First, this represents the 25th anniversary of the first issue of The Canadian Journal of Cardiology (CJC). Second, after 13 years, it represents my last issue as Editor-in-Chief.

The first issue of the Journal was published in January 1985, with the late Dr Bob Beamish as Editor-in-Chief, a position he held for 12 years. It is appropriate to reflect on that first issue for a number of reasons. First, in 1985, Pulsus Group Inc established the Journal with no more than a hope that it would become the official journal of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society (CCS).

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Eldon R Smith

Interestingly, I was one of a number of CCS members who were outspoken opponents to the Journal, believing that the Canadian cardiovascular science community was too small to support a high-quality journal. But through the persistence of Mr Robert Kalina of Pulsus Group Inc, and of Dr Beamish, the CJC was successful in becoming indexed (not an insignificant achievement) and was being recognized internationally as the de facto ‘Canadian’ journal of cardiology. In 1990, I was President of the CCS when it was decided that we should explore with Mr Kalina his invitation to have the CJC named as the official journal of the CCS. These negotiations were successful and since 1990, the CJC has been the official journal of the CCS. It was perhaps ironic that in 1997, when Dr Beamish retired, it was I who succeeded him as Editor-in-Chief. And now, 13 years have passed.

It is also of interest to look at some of the articles published in that first issue. There were papers authored or co-authored by (now Senator) Wilbert Keon, Drs John McCans, George Klein, William Kostuk, Charles Pollick, Martin Gardner, Naranjan Dhalla, Grant Pierce and the late Dr Robert Burns, among others. It is clear that Dr Beamish was successful in influencing these prominent Canadian cardiovascular clinician-scientists to devote time to writing papers for a journal that would not be indexed for years to come. I take my hat off to Mr Kalina, Dr Beamish and all of these authors for this ‘Premiere Issue’.

The past 13 years have been interesting and therefore, often challenging, while at the same time, very enjoyable. Because the CJC is the official journal of the CCS, the CCS Council has had the responsibility of recruiting and evaluating the Editor-in-Chief. The CCS Council only recently came to grips with the realization that it was not possible to view the Journal as a significant revenue centre and communication vehicle for members while simultaneously creating a journal with a high international recognition and a high impact factor. This has created many challenges for the editor, and perhaps mistakenly, we tried to achieve both goals simultaneously. To this end, the CJC has published statements, positions and guidelines from the CCS. In addition, we have looked favourably on articles considered to be of potential importance to policy development in Canada. Both groups of publications have not always supported the goal of improving the impact factor of the Journal.

There have been other challenges associated with being the Editor-in-Chief. In some instances, we developed strategies to deal with these challenges, which have been both a success and, subsequently, a failure. During the early days of my editorship, it was clear that we needed to attract more submissions. We were successful in this goal but then, the global economic conditions conspired to make this a less desirable outcome. The more articles a journal attracts, the more resources must be devoted to evaluation of these articles and, of course, there is a significant impact of accepting more papers for publication – at least unless the total number of published articles increases. Although we were successful in increasing the number of submissions by a factor of close to 8, as advertising revenues decreased over the past few years, we had to look at ways to discourage some of these submissions. Thus, we instituted a fee to have a manuscript evaluated, an intervention that clearly had a negative impact on submission numbers from the international community. In addition, as advertising revenues decreased, we were forced to publish fewer articles in fewer issues per year – interventions that have resulted in much longer wait times for publication of accepted articles and therefore, less incentive for authors to submit to the CJC. This has made the past two years particularly difficult as we have struggled to decrease the delay time to publication while wishing to continue to attract and accept good articles submitted to the Journal. I believe we have made significant progress. Although our total number of submissions has decreased by approximately one-third in the past two years, our acceptance rate has remained relatively low and because of online publication, we have been successful in clearing most of the backlog of articles accepted earlier for publication. At the same time, we have taken some positive steps toward decreasing the number of published articles considered in the calculation of our impact factor. As a result, the impact factor for 2008 increased to our highest level ever at 1.8, and we have every reason to believe that it will increase further for the 2009 year. Thus, despite some very difficult economic times during which we have decreased the number of issues per year and the number of papers per issue, we have managed to continue to publish articles of importance to Canadian cardiovascular medicine and at the same time, increased our impact factor. However, it needs to be noted that many of our authors have had to suffer long waits to publication during this difficult time and for this, we offer both our apologies and our appreciation.

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Cover of the Premiere Issue of The Canadian Journal of Cardiology / Page couverture du premier numéro du Journal canadien de cardiologie

And now it is time to pass the torch. I am delighted that the CCS has been successful in recruiting Dr Stanley Nattel of the Montreal Heart Institute (Montreal, Quebec) for the position of Editor-in-Chief. Dr Nattel is a successful researcher who brings a long record of experience in editing to the CJC and I am confident that he is ideally situated to lead the Journal to the next level of accomplishment. I sincerely believe that with Dr Nattel’s leadership, the CJC can move into the upper echelons of international cardiovascular journals, while at the same time, continuing to serve the Canadian cardiovascular community needs. This will not occur without challenges, and Dr Nattel and the CJC will need the support of our authors, reviewers and readers as we move forward. But I believe that while challenges exist, the future is bright. I will be watching attentively from the sidelines and am prepared to do whatever I can to support the future success of the Journal.

I wish to thank the CCS for the opportunity to be the Editor-in-Chief, as well as Pulsus Group Inc (Mr Kalina and staff) for all their support over the years. I have learned much and hope I have contributed in some small way to Canadian cardiovascular medicine and the development of the CJC. I owe much to the Associate Editors, members of the Editorial Board, Ms Peggy Randall in my office, and particularly to the many reviewers for all their support over the years. I will miss it.

Footnotes

The views expressed on this page are those of the Editor-in-Chief and are not intended to reflect the opinions of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society or Pulsus Group Inc.


Articles from The Canadian Journal of Cardiology are provided here courtesy of Pulsus Group