EJBM Turns 30

EJBM Celebrates 30 Years at Einstein

While a peer-reviewed journal in which scientific articles by principal investigators appear together with those written by graduate and medical students is practically unheard of, it's even more unusual when that same publication is run by students.

The current editorial staff of EJBM
The current editorial staff of EJBM
For most of the past 30 years, Einstein has had the unique distinction of producing such a student-run, peer-reviewed scientific journal—the Einstein Journal of Biology & Medicine (EJBM). First published as the Einstein Quarterly in 1982, EJBM has served the international scientific community continuously since then, featuring material ranging from original research and case studies to book reviews and reflective essays. The publication is one of the oldest student-run biology journals in the nation.

"Our success is largely due to the commitment of Einstein's faculty. Their support and guidance has been critical to the journal's longevity," noted Michael Shusterman, current editor-in-chief and fourth-year medical student.

Gaining Valuable Experience

View the current issue of EJBM
View the current issue of EJBM
Established by former Einstein emeritus faculty member, Dr. Sam Seifter, who died in 2009, the journal has always served as an excellent opportunity for graduate and medical students to learn more about the inner workings of a scientific journal. "EJBM provides an excellent training exercise for all students, but particularly those people who want to go into writing, editing, or publishing," said Dr. Lloyd Fricker, professor of molecular pharmacology and of neuroscience. "Not all of our students go into academia and, through the journal they're gaining skills that can be useful in many other fields within and outside of the university setting."

Through their participation in EJBM, Einstein students, postdoctoral fellows and residents have the opportunity to be involved in the entire process of putting together a journal, from finding peer reviewers to editing content and supervising the design and layout of the final issue. 

Creating a Digital Archive

The resulting publications that have been created over the past 30 years—along with their authors, faculty reviewers and various publication staff members—represent a wealth of Einstein history. For this reason, the editorial board recently undertook the massive task of digitalizing all 30 years of articles that previously were only accessible in the Einstein library stacks.

Sam Seifter, Ph.D., founding faculty advisor
Sam Seifter, Ph.D., founding faculty advisor
"By partnering with the Einstein library staff, over the past year and a half, we've been able to digitize all the back issues of EJBM to create a modern, fully functional, searchable archive of the journal," said Mr. Shusterman. "This open-access archive is easy to navigate, allowing a user to search by authors and topics. And thanks to the library staff's help, 30 years of Einstein history are now available online."

Offering Social Components

In addition, over the past couple of years, EJBM has followed the example of other modern scientific journals by expanding beyond a print format. Among the improvements, the journal now shares articles online ahead of print, and its editorial board produces a blog, The EJBM Blog, and has developed a strong social media presence. The blog recently underwent a re-design that will be launched in early 2014.

Chaim Putterman, M.D., current faculty advisor
Chaim Putterman, M.D., current faculty advisor
"If one compares the journal today to when I took over as faculty advisor a few years ago, the changes are dramatic," said Dr. Chaim Putterman, professor of medicine and of microbiology & immunology and chief of the division of rheumatology.

"We thought that the blog was a natural extension of our work. Since many of the articles in our print publication can be very technical, we use the blog to address the information in a way that could be of interest to a wider audience," said Mr. Ali Zahalka, managing editor of the journal. "The commentaries, reflections, and other articles found on the blog explore a wealth of topics and represent submissions from the entire Einstein community."

He continued, "We strive to be accessible to a broad audience and welcome submissions from throughout the academic community. Overall, the evolution of EJBM may have been a slow process, but we're excited about how accessible we're becoming and about the possibility to use the Internet to share more of our content."

A Platform for Learning and Promoting Science

From the digitization of its archives to outreach on social media, EJBM's staff hopes to continue serving as a resource for the scientific community. However, the value of the journal goes beyond that to encompass the irreplaceable experience for Einstein students, postdocs and residents involved in producing the quality journal each quarter, along with the new components offered by social media.

"Being part of the journal has been an amazing learning experience," said Mr. Shusterman. "While we've faced many challenges, we've also learned so much—from how to process the literature to managing expectations, to working as team. These skills will be useful to us whatever our future careers may be."

Posted on: Monday, March 3, 2014