Harold I. Feldman (HIF), MD, MSCE, of the Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM) at the University of Pennsylvania has been announced as the next Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Kidney Diseases (AJKD). Dr. Feldman’s five-year term begins January 1, 2017, and the AJKD Blog asked him the following questions to learn more about him and his vision for the journal.
AJKDblog: Among other things, you’re a PI on a number of massive studies, you lead a department and a cross-disciplinary research institute, and you mentor student clinicians. Some of our readers have got to be wondering: what possessed you to take on another huge responsibility?
HIF: It is true that I lead or co-lead some very large renal-research networks. However, as my research program has matured, I have been joined by outstanding colleagues who make it possible for me to devote more time to activities such as the editorship of AJKD. And as someone who has long been deeply connected to the nephrology community, I am eager to see this outstanding journal continue to evolve—taking advantage of new and emerging science. All of my professional activities serve a shared goal: to promote clinical investigation that meets the highest standards, and to train and promote the next generation of leaders in medicine.
AJKDblog: Last year was the 350th anniversary of the publication of the first scientific journal, leading to a lot of discussion about whether scholarly journals still make sense in the modern world. We’re guessing you think the answer is yes, but how do you see journals changing in the next decade?
HIF: I think it is not a question of whether journals should continue; it is a question of how. And the answer is, they should exist as part of a multipronged, strategic communications effort. AJKD has done an excellent job with this, principally via the AJKD blog and podcasts. But—especially for younger nephrologists—it is crucial that we do more. Physicians increasingly use electronic devices—especially, mobile—to access scholarly information. And a 2015 survey by Kantar Media showed this is true of nephrologists: 80% reported reading the print version of journals—but only 35% were reading that version exclusively.
Of course not every new device will be appropriate. I will expand judiciously, with the help of a new specialty editor for electronic content.
AJKDblog: Do you have any pet peeves as an author or reviewer, which you’re mindful of as you take the reins at AJKD?
HIF: I can think of three:
- Lengthy review processes. We owe it to authors to review their work rapidly.
- Insufficient attention to the quality of research that is published.
- Disproportionate emphases on a narrow range of research topics.
AJKDblog: One of the important articles you published early on was in AJKD, in 1992. Do you remember anything about the experience? Do you have any advice for new authors?
HIF: Publishing my work has always been a thrilling process. I clearly recall feeling a strong sense of accomplishment from having my work appear in AJKD. I hope that moving forward, the Journal will serve as a venue for both senior, experienced researchers and for our most promising new investigators.
Advice for first-time authors: Write simply. Tell the story of your study. Create an experience for your readers. First excite them with your hypotheses. Then succinctly describe your methods and findings. Finally, offer a clear synthesis of the interpretation and importance of your findings. Ask friends or colleagues not involved in your work to read your manuscript and provide honest feedback. Put down your “finished” work for a week, then return and edit it one last time.
AJKDblog: Any special plans for the journal, which you are able to share with us?
HIF: I plan to expand our content. Nephrology journals have not covered pediatric nephrology to the extent it deserves. That academic community has grown and produces outstanding scholarship that is often highly relevant to nephrology in general. A second overlooked area is patient-centered outcomes research. Since 2012 alone, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has funded 18 major studies related to nephrology; the NIH and private foundations have funded many others. We can translate the findings of such high-quality studies into clinical practice.
In addition, there are a few topics I think we should focus on more:
- Policy research can clarify the overall economic and health impact of any given approach and sometimes provide specific critiques—for instance, pointing to services that are not delivering sufficient value.
- Recipients of kidney allografts have become one of our largest segments in chronic kidney disease. Longer survival has shifted our research from its traditional focus on allograft function; we must consider a broader set of outcomes, at levels commensurate with moderate-stage native CKD.
- Work by authors from Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America is rare in AKJD and its peers. If we focus on various parts of the globe, we will naturally include broader content—which will help expand our audience outside of North America and will make AJKD more valuable for all of our readers.