The Research Effort

      It is often acknowledged that the medical research process is time-consuming and expensive. In addition, while the collective process of medical research manifests continuous clinical and technological advances that result in improved patient outcomes, individual research efforts often end in failure to effect a clinical improvement, failure to generate data supportive of a favored hypothesis, or failure to achieve acceptance for presentation and publication. As researchers as well as editors, we have personally experienced each of these frustrations, as well as the occasional satisfaction.
      The purpose of this editorial is to remind both readers and contributors to Arthroscopy: The Journal of Arthroscopic and Related Surgery of the phenomenal effort that research entails. The current issue is exemplary, but almost any issue could serve equally well as a demonstration of the research effort.
      First, let us not forget our readers. Each of you invests in the effort and expense of obtaining the journal; yet, your greatest investment may be your investment of time. At the expense of additional clinical work, or of play, you sit (or stand or lie or pace), you turn the page, you look at the pictures (absolutely), you read the abstracts, and you delve deeply into some if not all of the original articles, case reports, technical notes, and features offered each month. We must absolutely and mutually acknowledge your research effort.
      Second, let us not forget our editorial team. The Journal staff is professional, talented, educated, experienced, and devoted. With the support of our publisher, the Arthroscopy Association of North America (AANA) staff in Rosemont, Illinois, the AANA Board, and the Journal Board of Trustees, the Journal staff—Deborah VanNoy, Hank Hackett, and Charles Jenkins—performs the work of a dozen. In addition, each original manuscript submission, whether accepted or not, is reviewed by two Peer Reviewers. These volunteers devote effort and hours to polishing the finest articles and making suggestions to improve those manuscripts that could be finer. Notably, our top Reviewers comprise our Editorial Board. Because at least one of the two Reviewers of each manuscript is an Editorial Board member, one can imagine that as soon as these steadfast volunteers complete a review, another appears in their inbox. And what is the prize for these constant hours? Ironically, it is the opportunity to devote a still greater time commitment to the research effort. Our top Editorial Board members may become Associate Editors, whose inboxes are literally flooded with an opportunity to contribute their precious hours to the research effort. In addition to reviewing each original manuscript submitted, the Associate Editors review the two related reviews. Without their ultimate recommendations, your Editors-in-Chief would be incapable of generating our quality, peer-reviewed Journal. And yes, finally we two—suffice it to say that it is the weekend, the sun is shining, the crisp fall air beckons, and we are sitting in well-worn chairs, on well-worn carpet, in front of our computers, and writing.
      Lastly…our authors… last but truly not least. It was important to acknowledge our readers and team before they were overlooked, because the research effort of our authors is, in a word, amazing. Indeed, the current issue serves as but an example, and a shining example. As you peruse this issue, we hope that you and every reader will take a moment to imagine the energy, time, expense, and minor or major frustrations that must have occurred along the way to ultimate acceptance for publication of these articles. Obtaining, storing, freezing, thawing, and treating cadavers, arranging a biomechanics laboratory, processing statistics, applying for grants, reviewing charts, obtaining MRIs, calling patients, recalling patients…consents, references, reading, writing, ‘rithmatic, IRBs, software, hardware, wear and tear, photocopies, reviews, revisions, rejections, resubmissions…we could continue were we not short of breath…
      And having caught our breath, it is with utmost respect that we must acknowledge that we are unable to accept the great majority of manuscripts submitted to Arthroscopy. In an era of ever-increasing submissions, our editorial standards evidence a commensurate rise. Yet it is clear that those authors whose contributions are not accepted may exert no less a research effort than those whose works are published in the Journal. Such authors are lauded and are further encouraged. It is without doubt that authors who publish in Arthroscopy with any frequency have faced similar rejections, have learned from Reviewer feedback, and have been more likely to have their future efforts accepted for publication…and it is an acknowledged fact that this statement applies to both authors of this editorial.
      So why the effort? Fame is fleeting, and fortune is not proportionate to the energy invested. The obvious answer is the opportunity to improve patient outcomes. The reward, it seems, is priceless.
      Figure thumbnail gr1
      Number of manuscripts submitted to Arthroscopy annually from 2001 to 2006, showing the proportion of Domestic (U.S.A./Canada) and international submissions.