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ACCP Report - February 2018

Inside the Journal: The Rise and Role of Themed Issues


Inside Journal

C. Lindsay DeVane, Pharm.D., FCCP, BCPP
Editor-in-Chief, Pharmacotherapy

Many ACCP members can recall when a print issue of a monthly biomedical journal
was occasionally accompanied by a separately bound addendum designated as a supplement. These are stand-alone issues or parts of regular issues. They have been used to archive meeting abstracts, summarize the results of invited conferences, and promote special topics of interest to a journal's readership.

Publication of supplements often entails additional production costs outside what is normally provided by a publisher. Among medical and pharmacy journals, supplements have widely been underwritten by the pharmaceutical industry. Benefits to the sponsor include an ability to profile the characteristics of a new drug in development or to promote the benefits of an old drug with a new indication. Many articles in a single supplement can be devoted to a related topic. These issues can be distributed as a bound series of reprints rather than a bundling of several articles on a similar topic from different journals.

Marketing budgets and advertising practices in the pharmaceutical industry have been transformed in recent years, stimulated by guidelines from professional organizations, institutions, and regulatory agencies regarding drug promotion. Some reorientation of marketing budgets has resulted from the relaxation of direct-to-consumer advertising. One result has been waning support for the production of journal supplements. Although funding sources can bias the content of supplements, collections of articles that cover a related topic comprehensively are needed. The editors of Pharmacotherapy believe that themed issues have a place in meeting this need.

Pharmacotherapy has a history of publishing related articles in single issues that focus on a specific topic. In recent years, entire issues, or designated sections of a single issue, have been devoted to specialty themes. Some of the topics covered include the use of vancomycin, anticoagulation, women's health, the rising cost of pharmaceuticals, precision medicine, and the opioid crisis. A goal of themed issues is to provide the readership with state-of-the-art research and reviews to address topics of broad interest.

Themed issues that explore contemporary topics in pharmacotherapy are planned for publication several times each year in future volumes of Pharmacotherapy. This plan allows invited guest editors to serve for a limited time in the role of a scientific editor to develop a journal issue on a specific topic. The principles recommended by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors covering editorial practices apply equally to themed issues and all published manuscripts. Guest editors are responsible for selecting authors, manuscript referees, and content in the development of a special section or themed issue. The authors of articles that appear in themed issues can be expected to be authorities in their field. The editor-in-chief assumes responsibility for the work of guest editors and retains the authority to reject manuscripts with or without external review. Disclosures related to potential conflicts of interest apply equally to all accepted articles for Pharmacotherapy.

Themed issues complement, but do not replace, the publication of unsolicited manuscripts. Invited and spontaneously submitted research articles and reviews remain Pharmacotherapy's indispensable source of relevant content. One goal in developing themed issues is to provide comprehensive coverage of a topic from several authors with differing points of view. Themed issues give the editor-in-chief and scientific editors more latitude in presenting relevant content to ACCP members and the greater readership.