There’s an old joke about an Editor-in-Chief who went to see a therapist because he had issues. The therapist said he was bound to overcome them, and with hard work they turned the page on his problems. It’s a joke that speaks volumes to those who have been in a similar position.
Bad puns? Sure. But as with any good joke, there is some underlying truth. As the Editor-in-Chief for ImmunoHorizons (IH), a still young journal, I’ve really thought about what makes a journal a journal. By definition, a journal is a newspaper or magazine that focuses on a particular subject or professional activity. IH fits the latter part of that description; we’re focused on immunology. But is it really a magazine? I went to grad school when it seemed like one of the rites of being an immunologist was having a stack of issues of The Journal of Immunology (The JI) on a chair in your office, still pristine in their shipping shrink wrap. Sure, there were faculty members who opened them immediately with Christmas morning excitement. But for many, a few times a year there was a frenzy of unwrapping and the issues were perused en masse before being placed on a shelf in your office, taken to the a departmental library (Fig. 1), or tossed in the laboratory for a grad student to look at before the issues were stacked somewhere else.
Back then, these issues were commodities. I often went from our departmental library to various faculty offices trying to find an issue that had a paper I wanted to read. These searches were opportunities to talk to faculty other than your mentor who might have some valuable resource right there in his or her office. You quickly learned who had The JI issues that dated back to the 1970s (ancient history even when I went to grad school), because the alternative was going to the library and combing through musty and dusty shelves only to find that the volume you needed wasn’t there. Maybe you’d get lucky by scanning the carts near the copier and find your volume waiting to be reshelved. Often, it just meant coming back next week. But then along came this thing the kids call the Internet and you could access The JI online, and download the latest articles or anything in the archive, and as a result, there was even less reason to rip open your latest issue of The JI. The stacks grew higher, intimidating in their knowledge that was now unlikely to be shared on a professionally printed page. The benefits of online access were clear—quicker access, you only printed what you wanted, less paper was used, and space that had previously been devoted to rows of journals was now available for other things. But there were things lost too: reading the occasional article as you flipped through the journal that you otherwise might not have, and the charm of not having any place to sit in a faculty office because you were competing with The JI.
So that brings us back to IH. As a journal that has always been online, no one has ever held an issue in his or her hands. Sure, the papers are published online in monthly issues, and we even have cover images, but there’s nothing to take up space on a chair. There’s nothing that screams to all visitors that you are a proud AAI member. But we’ve got issues, and volumes and even page numbers and, of course, as I’ve highlighted many times, the most reasonable editorial board in the business. Online it looks as much like a magazine as The JI does. And with the backing of the AAI, the support of a caring and outstanding staff, and the leadership of the second-best Editor-in-Chief of all of the journals at the AAI, we’re working to provide a great forum for your immunology research.
Of course, this is now the point in the editorial where I remind you that we would love to see your submissions. IH publishes papers that are descriptive, of limited scope, and have mostly negative data. All of those terms that other journals use as derogatory are exactly what we like to see submitted. You can submit papers directly. Some of you might get offers to transfer if your paper is not accepted at The JI. The offer to transfer is not a guarantee of acceptance at IH, but we do have a very high rate of acceptance for transferred papers. Transferred papers have decisions within days, are quickly available online, and of course now you don’t even need to print them; you can read them as a PDF, which I think is pretty darn fantastic. Topics can be minimal phenotypes or effects, bioinformatics, effects of biological variables, and our new developing section on immunology education. We look for sound science, appropriate conclusions, and clear communication of the topic. We’re ok if we’re not your first choice for a journal (although we’re thrilled when we are), but we’re your AAI journal, and we’re here when you need us.
I also want to thank everyone who participated in our Find the Editor contest at the annual meeting in Portland. I’m grateful to all of the editors for wearing a bright green T-shirt so stylishly. I thank everyone who came by to meet the Editor. And it was heartwarming to see all of the photographers who captured the raw beauty of our Editorial Board in the wild. Because the meeting next year will be in Washington, DC, we’re thinking the contest will be to capture a shot of an Editorial Board member with a national monument in the background. Maybe we can meet at the Library of Congress because I’ve heard they’ve got issues too.