Over the past 6 months as Editor-in-Chief Designate, I have come to appreciate many things about the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics , one of which is the size and quality of the team that creates it every month; approximately 600 people are involved, and they must be acknowledged.
Notably, Dr David Turpin, Editor Emeritus and Interim Editor-in-Chief, must be congratulated and thanked for his stint as Interim Editor after the untimely death of Vince Kokich. David has been an outstanding mentor and confidant during this time: always kind, gentle, and supportive.
Special thanks are also due Ms Chris Burke, the managing editor of the AJO-DO , and Amy Norwitz, our issue manager at Elsevier. Chris has the experience and expertise to keep manuscripts moving through our review process, from initial submission to well-crafted, finished article. Amy makes the challenging task of coordinating final author changes and assembling articles into a cohesive issue for print and online publication look easy, but we know it is anything but.
Beyond these 3, there is a large pool of exceptional people with various backgrounds, experiences, and talents, who work together to produce an exceptional Journal . This cohort includes associate editors and over 500 reviewers, as well as members of the AAO staff.
The AJO-DO is not a recent invention. It was built and evolved over the past 99 years under the stewardship of Dewey, Pollock, Dewel, Watson, Graber, Turpin, and Kokich. We owe them a great deal. Special tribute is due Dr Kokich; he was not finished with his work, and in his honor many of his innovations in information dissemination will be continued.
Of course, I am honored to be the new Editor-in-Chief, but I am also humbled in assuming a leadership role involving such a large team who work very hard to produce a journal of great prominence. I am only 1 person entering into this large and vibrant activity. So, as did the editors before me, I will need your assistance and support in this new role.
A guiding philosophy
As the eighth Editor-in-Chief of the AJO-DO , I have come to realize that I will be responsible for many things that are obvious and others that are not always apparent and realized. I offer a few comments of clarification.
The first priority for the Journal will be its readers. It is important to keep them informed about current orthodontic research and clinical practice for the betterment of the specialty, orthodontists, and the patients who are served.
The articles published in the Journal need to be accurate and honest accounts of inquiry. They should also be meritorious articles that address contemporary topics that are of significant interest to the members of the orthodontic community. The Journal should also serve and encourage the authors who submit their work and help them improve their submissions through the review process and subsequently enhance the impact of their work in the future.
We will make every attempt to acknowledge the many components that are part of and affect the orthodontic community. These include consideration for students, teachers, scientists, dentists, other specialists, professional organizations, and our partners in the orthodontic industry. All will be treated with the respect they deserve. Furthermore, because the Journal is international in scope, this inclusiveness applies to all who seek knowledge from it, whether they live in the United States or abroad.
The topics of the articles in Journal will, of course, be balanced. The most obvious balance will involve reports that could be categorized as “clinical” or “research based.” Although on its face this seems to be a conflict, actually it is not. Such topics are part of an interrelated continuum, since the value of research is demonstrated only when it is applied in a clinical setting that improves human health. Likewise, the ideas that spring from practice inspire and become fodder for research. We need both—in balance.
In recent years, much has been said of the value of evidence-based practice. That theme will continue, because the payoff from high-level inquiry is improved patient care. Much has been made of the level-of-evidence pyramid, with some types of studies relegated to the lower part of the pyramid, and carefully controlled systematic reviews and randomized clinical trials located at the top. Although this is a useful symbol, it should not be taken to mean that some types of research are not valuable. A balance exists here also. At the top, a positive systematic review on a certain topic provides great assurance that related applications in clinical practice have a sound scientific basis in fact, rather than just an opinion. But it is also true that a systematic review on the same topic cannot be performed unless there are available research reports on that topic conducted at a so-called lower level of evidence. Science is a process where we desire the highest levels of evidence, but we need other levels of evidence as well.
In carrying out the work of the Journal , vigilance is required. How are we to respond when, for example, an appliance is offered up as new, wonderful, and effective; when it is well advertised and has millions of “results” after an Internet search, and our patients and parents want it? Be assured that the Journal will resist the impulse to promote it until such an appliance has been tested and proved its worth. We will also resist orthodontics without science; otherwise, we would be inviting comedy and antidata ∗
∗ In a scientific endeavor, data are produced that, when analyzed and interpreted, add to the sum of human knowledge. “Antidata” is a slang term that refers to data that, when analyzed and interpreted, actually subtract from the sum of human knowledge.
into our specialty. Thus, by extension, orthodontic alchemists, quacks, and charlatans will not be welcomed into the Journal . Only serious, sound, credible, and substantive works will be featured in the pages of the AJO-DO .
Bias and conflicts of interest will remain challenges for everyone involved in the publication process. Topics that span all aspects of orthodontics will be considered; this flexibility is necessary. Furthermore, every effort will be made to ensure that the editor, associate editors, and reviewers treat authors and their works fairly, without the intervention of personal bias and conflict of interest. This policy will apply to every other type of page in the Journal as well: every claim in each advertisement in the Journal will continue to be scrutinized with regard to demonstrated truth and derived claim.
Readers should know that all the articles published in the Journal are open for discussion. Disputes and controversies are expected, and that is healthy. To those who are inclined to so comment, please be aware that any argument that is to be printed in the Journal should be crafted so that it is collegial, professional, honest, and, if possible, constructive.
In closing, we will not forget the many qualities and achievements of Dr Vince Kokich, but as he would want us to do, we will move on into the future with determination and continued devotion to excellence. The Journal is worth the effort, for it is an important part of the specialty; in a way, it defines the specialty, and it also constitutes a significant instrument of change for the specialty.
What lies behind, and what is ahead? For me, this will be an exciting experience and a great adventure. As I think back to the beginning of my life in orthodontics and then ponder what has happened over the years up to today, I can only expect a future not only unpredictable and unplanned, but also filled with advancement of the specialty and improvements in patient care. Your Journal will be there to inform, guide, and inspire you.
Rolf G. Behrents
“For all that has been, thank you. For all that is to come, yes!”
Dag Hammarskjöld, Swedish diplomat, economist, and author