Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

From the Editor

Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

From the Editor

Article excerpt

In volume 19 (September-October 1989) of the Hastings Center Report, Howard Brody counseled physicians to make their reasoning about treatment recommendations "transparent" to patients. As we begin volume 30, it seems not a bad idea to make the Report's editorial process "transparent" to readers. Where do manuscripts come from? How are they evaluated? Who decides what appears in the journal? The short form: from just about anywhere; on grounds of substantive strength and quality of prose; and, a bunch of us. Let me unpack those answers.

Manuscripts literally come from just about anywhere, and anyone. Contrary to an enduring misperception, the Report is not a "closed shop." In any given year approximately 75 to 80 percent of the scholarly articles we publish are unsolicited contributions. The remaining 20 to 25 percent are solicited outright on the basis of ideas developed by the editors, the editorial committee, and colleagues within and outside the Center, or developed with authors who volunteer the germ of a manuscript rather than a finished product. For example, of the thirty-two articles published in 1999, fully twenty-five came in "over the transom"; five were solicited as essays to accompany the report on embryonic stem cell research of the Geron Ethics Advisory Board (generously offered to the Report by the board); and two were independently invited. Case studies are usually volunteered with one, sometimes two commentaries. In fact, the only contributions we routinely solicit are book reviews.

How are manuscripts evaluated? The Report uses a two-stage review process: all manuscripts are read initially by the editors and one member of The Hastings Center professional research staff, or on rare occasions an outside reviewer. Manuscripts not favorably reviewed on this initial screening are declined. If any one reader recommends considering the piece, however, the manuscript is sent to an outside reviewer and to all members of the Report's editorial committee--comprising the editors, Thomas Murray (Center president), Bruce Jennings (senior research scholar), and Erik Parens (associate). …

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