From Proceedings to IMJ:

A history of the College journals : 1946-1988

Posted by Karen Myers, Curator, on September 30, 2023

In 1944 the College Council decided to establish a journal, which was realised in January 1946 as the Proceedings of The Royal Australasian College of Physicians. Its publication allowed the scientific activities of the College, notably from the Annual Scientific Meeting, to be presented to a wider audience. With Mervyn Archdall serving as the Editor, it was published twice a year (in January and July) for six years.

In 1952 a more ambitious production, the Australasian Annals of Medicine, replaced and incorporated the Proceedings. In a foreword to the first Annals (11th May, 1952), Alan Holmes à Court, then President of the College, wrote:

‘In the judgement of the Council the time has arrived for the publication of an Australasian journal devoted to internal medicine and the allied sciences… It will not be restricted to the work of members of the College, but is designed as a medium for the presentation of original work carried out and investigations made in medicine and the medical sciences in Australia and New Zealand.’

The task of organising the new journal was given to Ralph Reader as Honorary Secretary of an Editorial Committee consisting of Holmes à Court (Chairman), Edward Ford and C.R.B. Blackburn, with M.K. Gray and J.O. Mercer as New Zealand representatives. Planning principally involved Dr Reader and Mervyn Archdall as Editor. It was published by The Australasian Medical Publishing Company, originally twice a year, but by 1954 this was extended to four times a year, with the selection of articles in the hands of the Editorial Committee.

In 1959 editorials were introduced, however these had a philosophical rather than a clinical or scientific viewpoint. Chairman of the Editorial Committee was now Charles McDonald, and Ronald Winton had replaced Archdall as Editor from 1957, acting in the role until 1970.

In 1961 Dr Reader was succeeded on the Editorial Committee by Dr John Beveridge.

Shortly after, a small but significant change appeared in a new sub-title, which appeared in Number 4 of Volume 10 (November 1962) of the Australasian Annals of Medicine: Journal of Internal Medicine of Australia and New Zealand Published by The Royal Australasian College of Physicians.

In the editorial of Annals in May, 1967, C.R.B. Blackburn (now chairman of the Editorial Committee) summed up the evolution of the College’s publication thus far:

"First a proceedings, then a College journal, and now a journal of internal medicine. The role of the College is clear: it started, then nurtured and now maintains a vigorous journal which it intends to keep colloquial and proper to everyday internal medicine...

Going forward it was to produce:

‘a journal devoted to internal medicine in all its ramifications, ranging from the purely clinical to the purely laboratory study. A primary aim is to publish original observations and research in internal medicine and in the medical sciences in general. We consider that papers relating to the clinical, biochemical, physiological, pathological, epidemiological and other aspects of medicine lie easily together in the Annals... We expect papers orientated to clinical medicine to have more scientific methodology and more rigid statistical analysis than the clinical papers of a decade ago. The journal must advance its standards with those of the practising physician and his medicine.’

Many renowned names were associated with the Annals including Frank Macfarlane Burnet, John Eccles, and Frank Fenner who all acted as state representatives.

In 1971 another change of title occurred with the Australasian Annals of Medicine becoming The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Medicine.

Just prior to this change Dr Packard resigned, succeeded by Professor Charles Kerr, who took up both the role of Honorary Editorial Secretary and Editor from December 1970 until 1975.

During Kerr’s incumbency, an effort to achieve earlier publication in the face of the substantial numbers of quality papers now being submitted was made, with the frequency of publication of the Journal increased from four to six times a year in 1972.

In 1975, Charles Kerr handed on the responsibilities of Editor to Ákos Györy, who developed the use of voluntary subeditors with expertise in special fields, as well as a system:

“where, as far as possible, the origin of the source of the work and especially the authors were obscured to ensure as much objectivity in the assessment of the results as possible.”

In 1979, "Brief Communications" and letters to the Editor on scientific and medical material were introduced into the Journal.

In 1980, the Council set up a Working Party chaired by Alan Skyring, to review the scope of the Journal, its readership, costs of publication and administration, with one outcome being the appointment of a Journal Advisory Committee in 1982. It was tasked with reducing costs while providing ‘a high quality publication, containing scientific articles of excellence, interesting correspondence, while attracting regular advertising, extending the subscription list’.

Associate Professor Michael O'Rourke was appointed Honorary Editor of the Journal in August 1981, and by 1984 material on Continuing Education was being increasingly introduced into the Journal. The amount of advertising in the Journal also doubled to defray costs associated with publication.

ADIS Press took over publication of the Journal from 1987.

The Journal played a major part in the College‘s Golden Jubilee celebrations in 1988, publishing the proceedings of most of the Special Societies participating in the College Congress

Part 2: 1989-2023 to follow