College of American Pathologists
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  New editor in chief turning
  the pages at Archives

  cap today

April 2005
Feature Story

Careful readers of the Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine might have noticed significant changes on the first page of the February issue, where the journal’s editorial board is listed.

New editor in chief Philip T. Cagle, MD, and those who chose him for the position say Dr. Cagle’s initiative in broadening and deepening the journal’s editorial advisory board has begun and will continue to ratchet up the quality of the Archives’ offerings. His changes encompass both section editors in subspecialties of pathology and associate editors to help handle the overall editorial load.

At the same time, the online peer review and tracking system that Dr. Cagle has led the way in uploading, called AllenTrack, will streamline the review process, automatically assigning articles to be reviewed to the appropriate section editor and then sending reminders by e-mail of due dates.

More changes, such as a cover that will be redesigned within the year, will continue to improve the 79-year-old publication, of which the CAP became a joint sponsor with the AMA in 1984 and sole sponsor in 1995, says Dr. Cagle, director of pulmonary pathology at The Methodist Hospital in Houston and a professor of pathology at Weill Medical College, Cornell University.

"We’re taking a journal that is certainly historic and has been very well liked by its readership and simply trying to improve upon it ... to reinvigorate it for the new century," Dr. Cagle says, noting that Archives "has a long, illustrious history that has been on the cutting edge of pathology in decades past." He adds, "I cannot emphasize enough the importance of the various editors who have been helping me out. They have all been enthusiastic."

Search committee chair Thomas M. Wheeler, MD, says a high level of enthusiasm is one of several characteristics that set Dr. Cagle apart from other candidates for the position, most recently held by acting editor Gregorio Chejfec, MD, and before him by the late Kenneth McClatchey, DDS, MD, who died of cancer in December 2003.

Other qualities that set Dr. Cagle apart included his dual board certification in anatomic and clinical pathology, a change in his practice schedule that opened up time to devote to the journal, and "excellent interpersonal, people skills," says Dr. Wheeler, professor and interim chair of Baylor University’s Department of Pathology and a member of the CAP’s Board of Governors.

"There are so many resource committees to interact with," Dr. Wheeler says. "They would like to have some input into the direction of the journal. All these different groups with different interests require someone who is politically savvy. He certainly fits that bill." And he had the necessary vision: "I had told him what my vision for the journal would be," Dr. Wheeler adds. "He absolutely agreed with it. The next step was for us to convince the board that was the direction it should go. The board bought into it."

Jennifer L. Hunt, MD, a search committee member and CAP Publications Committee member, says Dr. Cagle’s vision impressed her greatly. "He had some really concrete ideas on how to take it forward," she says. "He had already been thinking about building up a team that would be his support system, and editors and people who submit, and everything else. In today’s journals, it becomes more and more important to have many people contributing, many people who have in-depth knowledge of their subspecialty area. Pathology research is very sophisticated today. If you don’t know lung pathology or GI pathology in great detail, it becomes harder to review articles. This team also serves as a pool from which you can draw articles as well."

Dr. Cagle agrees wholeheartedly. "We are going to have a higher quality of both input up front as well as, I would hope, a more focused and organized review of manuscripts as they come in," he says. "That will produce a better product and higher quality, and more cutting-edge, up-to-date information for the readership. In this day and age, no one person can be an expert at a high level in every single aspect of pathology."

In addition to diversifying the editorial team, Dr. Cagle has added to its numbers to ensure enough bench strength when the first associate editor contacted is unavailable. "No one of them can always be available, so the idea of having multiple editors in each of these areas came about," he says. "This also can provide some diversity in points of view about the different subspecialty areas as well."

The associate editors oversee general areas of anatomic and clinical pathology as well as administration and legal and regulatory affairs, Dr. Cagle says. "They will help to oversee things in a broader sense and are people who will have leadership input," he says. "The executive advisory board is made up of people who are recognized leaders in pathology, who will serve primarily to give general advice about the journal’s direction."

This robust team has "set the bar higher, no question about it," for the journal’s overall quality, Dr. Wheeler says. "There’s going to be a lot more interest in publishing in Archives. In the past, it was not the journal you first submitted something to. You would try some higher-bar journal, and if they didn’t accept it, then you submitted to Archives. Why do we want a second-string article?"

The AllenTrack system, on the Web at, is already making the new team’s job easier, performing triage on manuscripts as they come in and sending out reminders of due dates, Dr. Cagle says.

"There are advantages over the old system, of mailing in a hard copy of manuscripts and sending that by mail," he says. "If a manuscript comes in on a particular topic, for example, breast pathology, then one of the section editors in breast pathology will be notified by e-mail that a manuscript has arrived, and it asks them if they can oversee or review this manuscript. If they cannot do so, the next section editor is asked."

He adds, "That addresses a lot of the inevitable issues that come up when you’re just relying on sending things by mail: They can get lost, misplaced, forgotten, all of those things. We have customized the AllenTrack system according to how we would like to do things, in terms of instructions to authors, instructions to reviewers, the dates and the timetable for getting a review in, revisions in, and so on."

Other changes, such as the cover format, will roll out during the next several months, Dr. Cagle says. "We would like to have a new look to the journal in addition to the other types of changes that we’re making to it now," he says. "It will probably be a period of months before all of the major changes will be manifest."

When all is said and done, Dr. Wheeler believes the "impact factor" of Archives will increase dramatically. "Our journal is the signature of our organization, particularly from an academic standpoint," he says. "The College of American Pathologists, anything they set out to do, they want to be the best at."

"Everyone’s concerned about the impact factor. That’s what people keep bringing up over and over again. But this is just part of the puzzle," Dr. Hunt says. "Dr. Cagle saw a lot of areas for improvement. But he also saw the current strengths of the journal."

Ed Finkel is a writer in Evanston, Ill.