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July 26, 1965

Crisis in Communication: The Functions and Future of Medical Journals

JAMA. 1965;193(4):323. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090040067029

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Today most physicians subscribe to the opinion that too much is being published too often in too many journals. Our abstract conviction of the existence of a "publication explosion" is strengthened by the concrete fact that we cannot keep up to date in subjects which interest us. Sir Theodore Fox, in his unofficial valedictory as editor of the Lancet, makes a thoughtful, witty assessment of this crisis in communication, and advocates a plan to resolve the crisis.

Fox defines two basic functions of medical journals: one, to record the minutiae of scientific data; the other to interpret recent research and synthesize it with the findings of other sciences. Most journals today combine, in varying proportions, both functions. In the future, Fox contends, communications intended for the record, particularly those containing the data of basic science, should not be published at all. Instead, abstracts should be circulated or published and the

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