The editorial published in this week’s PLoS Medicine looks back over the 5 years since the journal made its first call for papers and describes a new evidence-based approach to the aims and scope of the journal, which emphasizes the focus of PLoS Medicine on the diseases and risk factors that cause the greatest losses in years of healthy life worldwide.
The PLoS Medicine editors also emphasise the need to look beyond just the biological causes of disease. As the world faces up to the challenges of a changing climate, a turbulent economic system, continued global conflict – and now a possible influenza pandemic – they now wish to reinforce the important place in health research of work that encompasses the social, environmental, and political determinants of health, as well as the biological.
This image also accompanies the April issue and visually sums up the new focus.
All articles published this week in the journal illustrate the journal’s priorities. In the research section the following articles are published:
- Anders Bjorkman and colleagues’ trial of rapid diagnostic testing for malaria diagnosis in Zanzibar
- Majid Ezzati and colleagues’ study of US data on risk factor exposures and disease-specific mortality
- Matthias Egger and colleagues’ comparison of mortality rates between African patients starting HIV treatment and the general population.
In the magazine section a Health in Action article by Yibeltal Assefa and colleagues describes scale-up of antiretroviral treatment across Ethiopia, Bruno Marchal and colleagues argue in a Policy Forum that strategies which strengthen health systems are overly selective, and Daniel Reidpath and colleagues use the fourth Millennium Development Goal (MDG) as an example of the potential to neglect equity in the race to achieve the MDGs.
The PLoS Medicine editors conclude the editorial by saying that we believe our new, evidence-based, approach will not only ensure that open-access publishing reflects the health priorities of the 21st century, but will also reaffirm and revitalize the long tradition of medical journals leading, rather than following, the debate over research priorities. See the guidelines in the journal for more details.
Finally, a few weeks ago PLoS Medicine moved to Ambra (the publishing system that first debuted with the launch of PLoS ONE and will soon be home to all the PLoS journals). The more computer minded among you might be interested to know that Ambra is built on top of Topaz (the application that stores data in a combination of a semantic database – which holds all the metadata and a digital repository – which stores images, and xml files etc). This migration further enhances the newly refocused journal since it offers easier commenting and community feedback on the articles to all.