New editor sought for JAAD; Bruce Thiers, MD, reflects on a decade of progress

Applicants are being sought for Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (JAAD). The editor is appointed for an initial five-year term beginning June 1, 2018. Applications are due June 12, 2017. Apply now!

Bruce Thiers, MD, has served in the position since 2008.
Member to Member recently spoke with him about how he became involved in JAAD, and how he’s seen the journal change over the past decade.

Member to Member: Why did you decide to seek the position of JAAD editor in 2008?

thiers.JPGDr. Thiers: Working with JAAD has been in my blood throughout my career. In the late 1970s, my mentor in dermatology, Richard Dobson, MD, was one of the founders of JAAD. When I joined his department as a resident and then as a junior faculty member, he was on JAAD’s first editorial board. At the time, like all new journals, JAAD was intent on recruiting people to write articles so they’d have sufficient content to publish a monthly issue.

He asked for my help, and inquired as to what topic most interested me, which was medical therapeutics. So, I started writing articles on treatments and different types of drugs used to treat different conditions. It was a lot of fun, and I built up my CV in the process!

In 1988, Dr. Dobson became the second editor of JAAD. He asked me to be the deputy editor. I served in that position from 1988 to 1998. I’ve been involved in JAAD basically since its inception. I did take a hiatus for a few years after 1998, but in the 2000s, I started seeing the many exciting things affecting the publishing industry. That got my juices flowing and I wanted to get involved again, so I tossed my hat in the ring to become editor in 2008.

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Applicants are being sought for Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (JAAD) and Physician Editor of Dermatology World. Apply by June 12 for JAAD and by July 21 for Dermatology World. Learn more.

M2M: How has JAAD changed during your tenure as editor?

Dr. Thiers: In the past decade, the JAAD editorial team has guided the journal through a series of disruptive influences on publishing. The main disruptive influence, of course,being the internet.

It wasn’t that long ago that if you wanted to read the journal, you had to carry it with you. Now JAAD is everywhere. It’s online and accessible on mobile devices. But it’s still very popular in its original print format.

Early on, after recognizing that dermatologists were looking for expanded coverage beyond what we could include in print, we started adding exclusive online content, including Images in Dermatology and Dermoscopy Case Reports.

The online journal includes content to supplement the print journal. We’ve got videos, podcasts, audio slides, a virtual microscope, and an online Pearls section, which includes Clinical, Therapeutic, and Surgical Pearls. Just recently, we’ve started the JAAD Virtual Journal Club, where readers can interact with authors, and we have a very active Facebook page.

We’re trying to take full advantage of the flexibility and versatility that the internet offers us. That’s not to say we’ve ignored the print journal. We’ve improved the readability of print articles, so the articles are shorter and crisper. Major articles have a structured abstract and a capsule summary to emphasize key points. We have a CME work group that facilitates the publication of high quality CME articles. We’ve introduced new print features, including From the Dermatology Foundation, Dermatoethics Consultations, Beyond JAAD, and this year’s release of the Health Policy and Practice series.

In 2014, JAAD transferred publication of Case Reports to our first offspring, the online open access journal, JAAD Case Reports, which now also includes the Images in Dermatology and Dermoscopy Case Reports articles as well. The table of contents for JAAD Case Reports is published monthly in the print JAAD.

We’re especially excited about the growth of the JAAD Editorial Mentorship Program, which helps young dermatologists to hone their skills in evaluating manuscripts to become future reviewers (and hopefully editors) of JAAD. The application process for the next cycle opens November 2017.

It’s been a very busy and rewarding time. I’m proud of what the JAAD team has accomplished.

M2M: What’s a day in the life of the editor of JAAD?

Dr. Thiers: I can tell you what life as an editor is like for me.  But a new editor might do things differently, which is fine.

My philosophy has always been, "the journal never sleeps." There is no longer a physical office where the editor works. My JAAD office is in my laptop. In the evening, I’ll flip it open and see what manuscript work has to be done. But I don’t have a set time when I’m working on the journal —  because I’m always working on the journal. I prefer to take little bites of the work, rather than big chunks. Sometimes I’ll work on JAAD during the day if I have some free time; otherwise, nights, weekends, when on vacation, whenever I get a chance I’ll take a peek into Editorial Manager (our manuscript submission system) to see if there’s work to be done. I'm not a glutton for punishment, I just really enjoy working on the journal!

The next editor might do things differently. He or she might spend two hours a day at a set time doing journal work. And if it works for that person, that’s fine. If I had to give one piece of advice to the next editor, I would say keep up with the work as it comes in. Don’t let it pile up. It’s got to be a labor of love. If you don’t like doing it, it’s going to be very imposing. If you like doing it, you’ll look forward to reviewing manuscripts and communicating with authors and members of your editorial board.

For me, the past 9 years have been very fulfilling. I’m just so glad I had the opportunity to serve the Academy and its members in this capacity.

Apply by June 12