Physician’s Perspective

Musings as the “Green Journal” Goes Green

Steven R. Gambert, MD, AGSF, MACPEditor-in-Chief, Clinical Geriatrics®

I won’t deny that I felt a pang of sadness as I learned that this issue would be the last print issue of Clinical Geriatrics®. There is certainly something wonderful about holding a publication in your hand and poring over its pages. But if you already read the Editor’s Note, you’ll have seen that the journal will continue to be produced online, which is both an important and exciting move.

Perhaps our announcement wasn’t surprising to you. After all, we’ve all heard that “print is dead,” and there is no denying that some publications have gone the way of the Dodo when they were forced to shut down for financial or other reasons. But some publications have been proactive in adapting to the relatively new climate of rising Web prominence, smartphones, and tablets by completely switching to, or at least embracing, an online platform. One clinical journal that was an early online adopter and saw considerable success after doing so is the British Medical Journal, and many other journals have followed suit.

For some of us readers, adapting to such online formats has been more difficult than for others, but there is no denying that we are on the cusp of another evolution in information dissemination. Historical publishing models no longer work in today’s information-thirsty society, and there are no exceptions when it comes to clinical journals. By bringing journals online, important research and information that was previously hidden from nonsubscribers or people outside of a publication’s circulation has suddenly become accessible to everyone. Even if all information isn’t yet free for everyone to consume, just the knowledge that it exists is a major hurdle overcome.

In the medical arena, information is constantly changing, and print journals just can’t keep up with this pace. They also can’t afford to print encyclopedic-sized issues every month, but by going online, they can release important information much more timely. This is an important development for expanding medical knowledge, as it enables researchers, physicians, and even patients who otherwise would have no contact with each other to have timely access to information and to collaborate to solve clinical problems.

In contrast, when clinical information is tucked away in a print journal that has a limited audience, it can never reach its full potential. The Web broadens the audience to include anyone with access to this medium, tremendously expanding the informational reach. I recently read that almost all researchers and 75% of physicians in the developed world have online access, and it seems inevitable that as technology continues to evolve and become more accessible, everyone in the not-so-distant future will have some connection to the Web.

Now, Clinical Geriatrics has already been online for many years as an open-access journal, so anyone can read any article at any time. There are no subscription fees to access our content, and this is not changing. Therefore, our move to go online-only is not a truly radical change, but it is one that will enable us to enhance our offerings, and while it is nice to hold a publication in your hand, the advantages of having information at your finger tips is far nicer. If you’re of an older generation, just think back to the days when we had to trek to the library and spend hours locating articles and other reference sources only to have to spend more hours sifting through them to find the precise information we were looking for. While this experience in retrospect may evoke fond memories, at the time, the process may have been frustrating and felt laborious.

As Clinical Geriatrics becomes green, we hope you—our readers—will enjoy the extra space in your mailbox and will regularly stop to visit us as you journey down the information highway. Simply type into the GPS—I mean search engine—of your choice. See you soon!