As authors, reviewers, and dedicated associate editors come together to continue publication of the AJO-DO after the death of Vincent G. Kokich (see the October Editorial and In Memoriam), the search for a new editor-in-chief has begun. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) established a search committee under the guidance of Brent Larson. “We recognize the importance of the AJO-DO to our members. We are committed to finding a new editor-in-chief with the passion and energy to keep the journal relevant to clinicians and researchers in our continually advancing profession.”
A change of editors is a good opportunity to assess what it takes to lead a scientific journal—in this case, a journal that strives to serve the orthodontic clinicians and researchers who make up our readership. It only makes sense to look to an organization that has been supporting dentistry meaningfully for nearly a century. The American College of Dentists, founded in 1920, devoted an entire issue of its journal to “Advice for a young editor.” That advice is well worth considering as the search committee begins its work.
The first responsibility of the editor is to the readers. The editor should work to ensure that content is from reputable sources, factually accurate, balanced, and unbiased. Personal opinion should be labeled as such, with potential conflicts of interest disclosed. The publication should be readable and based on a standardized style with careful editing for grammar and clarity. Opportunity should be provided for alternative opinions when possible.
The second responsibility of the editor, representing the professional community, is to the authors. The editor should promote the dignity of the specialty, regularly publishing the standards for the selection of content and the format for submission of material. All material should be reviewed by competent experts in the field, in a fashion that is timely, confidential, and constructive. Standards should be set for reviewers and rules enforced under which they operate for all peer-reviewed articles.
The third responsibility of the editor is to the organization publishing the journal: in this case, the AAO. The editor should diligently avoid placing the sponsoring organization in a legally questionable position. He or she should respect the terms of employment, fully understanding what is expected as both an editor and a participant on various committees, task forces, annual meetings, and so on. The editor should ensure that the advertising is in good taste and does not violate the association’s advertising guidelines.
The fourth responsibility of the editor is to the community of editors. This means that the editor should regularly seek advice and be open to guidance from peers. The editor should endorse policy covering republication and other use of published material, and be open to incorporating new forms of communication, such as videos and blogs. In all formats used, the editor should have the final say over the content of the publication.
Writing and editing are privileges of self-expression and ethical responsibilities to readers. My advice to the next editor of the AJO-DO is to build and maintain trust by knowing the process. The AAO has included an overlap period of 3 months, during which the new editor-in-chief will work with the interim editor-in-chief to learn how submissions flow through our system and how we work with Elsevier to assemble an issue. The search committee members are interested in your help as they seek the best person for this job. You can send Dr Larson an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Excellent journalism can help merge scientific findings with patient needs, influencing treatment plans and leading to improved outcomes. A specialty whose members can express themselves via the publication of properly conducted clinical research can enrich untold numbers of people throughout the world—both colleagues and the public at large.
On a more personal level, the best way we can honor the memory of Vince Kokich is by selecting a new editor-in-chief who will strive to maintain clinical excellence with every decision.