The American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics has now published articles continuously for over 100 years and is considered the most complete record of the orthodontic literature in existence. A journal was necessary to make this achievement possible but not sufficient to ensure that it would occur. To our good fortune, for more than a century there have been people who have confronted a blank sheet of paper (or a blank computer screen) on which they wrote the words, sentences, and paragraphs that ultimately coalesced into an article intended to communicate with the readers of the AJO-DO .
In response to their great effort, I applaud and congratulate the 37,000 authors who succeeded in having their articles published in the AJO-DO from 1915 to 2014.
It is easy to admire what these authors have done. In preparing their articles, they performed research and documented treatment; they reviewed other research, read books, and attended meetings; and they developed thoughts, opinions, concepts, theories, and philosophies—all in preparation for writing a scientific article, a clinical report, a review of the literature, a book review, a meeting report, an editorial, or an opinion piece.
When all was ready, the writers used language and images, with various styles and techniques, to convey information and express ideas. They needed to explain what they had seen, experienced, discovered, thought, and concluded. But they also needed to offer meaning and impart feeling to the reader.
This process is particularly difficult for technical writers because they must explain complex ideas, theories, and findings, and use structured words and figures to create understandable documents that focus on technical or scientific matters. Their work must be readable and attractive, make sense, and not be patronizing to a reader with lesser knowledge and understanding.
Once the article came into existence, it was submitted to the Journal , where it was scrutinized by editors and reviewers, sometimes repeatedly; often, this process was unpleasant, involving criticism and rejection. Once accepted, the article was published in the AJO-DO . When that happens, “writers” assume their greater role as “authors,” because they are held responsible for the information in their articles. Alas, on publication, their articles might be considered controversial and unwelcome.
Since the process of producing an article can be difficult, why do so many writers take the time and make the effort to do so? Now, it is true that some writers just feel the need to write, or they might be passionate about writing, or they might feel some external pressure to write (eg, publish or perish!); however, in the main, one suspects that the vast majority of writers write because they want to educate, influence, and help others… and by doing so advance the specialty and the interests of society. In the end, authors are an important bunch, for they strive to change the way that people think, how they behave, and how they perform.
Although the Journal honors all the authors whose articles have been published in the AJO-DO during its first 100 years, a special salute is offered to those who have been the most prolific ( Figs 1 and 2 ). Many of these people are still with us, so if you happen to see them, you might consider saying “thank you,” for they deserve your personal greeting also.
I’m out there to clean the plate. Once they’ve read what I’ve written on the subject, I want them to think, ‘That’s it!’ I think the highest aspiration people in our trade can have is that once they’ve written a story, nobody will ever try that again.