IN 100 years, the Medical Journal of Australia has experienced massive changes in communication technology and is now available to readers around the world at the click of a button.
In parallel, have come changes in the way we practise medicine. We may not have developed magic bullets yet but, increasingly, we can target diseases through genetic insights to metabolic faults that underpin diseases.
Our conceptualisation of pathology and disease nomenclature is challenged and changing as we appreciate increasingly the diversity of disorder that lurks behind the light microscopic classification of cancers and otherwise disordered tissues.
To be able to visualise the neurochemical transactions occurring during neural transmission is an amazing achievement that opens new insights for neuroscience in its quest to understand, for example, schizophrenia and dementia.
We have moved heart disease as a killer from youth to old age — not conquering it, admittedly, but robbing it of its most devastating lethality through prevention and complex treatments.
We can now “Tweet”, “like”, download and blog about the latest developments in medicine. Yet, the avalanche of knowledge can easily swamp us.
We now need new tools to dig out from under this mountain of information. Critical appraisal skills, effective summarising of studies through entities such as the Cochrane Collaboration and wise commentary are essential to maintain professional poise and competence in this age.
The MJA must refine its understanding of what its readers want and need. While MJA InSight can readily assess which articles attract the most readers, the picture is less clear for the Journal, at least for its print version. Yet, this is essential intelligence if we are to connect with our readership.
The Journal is working on this market research with energy and making it a critical element of our effort to maintain our relevance to our readers.
The first editor of the MJA, Henry William Armit, wrote in the first issue that the Journal’s role was to “record the progress of scientific medicine, and to assist in rendering the practice of medicine of the greatest benefit to the people of Australia”.
Sounds like a good place to begin the Journal’s second century as well!
Professor Stephen Leeder is the editor-in-chief of the MJA and emeritus professor of public health and community medicine at the University of Sydney.
A Centenary Edition of the MJA is published today mja.com.au