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Letters   |    
Varda Peller Backus, M.D.
Psychiatric Services 2004; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.55.10.1179
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To the Editor: When John Talbott was called to edit Hospital and Community Psychiatry, it was a small, newsletter-style journal known mainly to state hospital employees, who received the publication as a benefit of their subscriptions to the Institute on H&CP. John's challenge was to turn this multidisciplinary publication into a self-sustaining, solvent, mainstream journal that would appeal to a substantial number of psychiatrists and mental health workers. The way John proceeded to accomplish this task was amazing.

He started by enlarging the editorial board to include experts in many areas. The board spent hours brainstorming to define the journal's goals and its audience and to identify relevant psychiatric topics and ways to solicit advertising. John felt that blind reviews were essential for ensuring high scientific quality. Therefore, each submission was reviewed by two outside authorities as well as by a member of the board, all of whom submitted their comments to him. John read every paper and made the final decisions. Board members were encouraged to submit names of individuals working in areas relevant to the journal who might contribute research reports and reviews. We discussed ways of calling attention to the publication. Initially it was not clear how to persuade people to submit their papers to H&CP rather than to "the green journal" or other respected venues. John's solution was to ensure rapid publication. This approach increased John's workload considerably but eventually succeeded in luring contributors.

John excelled in getting people to work cooperatively and in engendering an atmosphere of creative excitement and exploration. I marvel at his success in turning H&CP into Psychiatric Services, a respected and widely read publication.

It was great fun to be on John's team.

Dr. Backus is clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego.




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