BJJ Podcasts

The history of The Bone & Joint Journal, with Mr Frank Horan

June 24, 2022 The Bone & Joint Journal Episode 55
BJJ Podcasts
The history of The Bone & Joint Journal, with Mr Frank Horan
Show Notes Transcript

Listen to the late Mr Frank Horan, former Editor-in-Chief of The Bone & Joint Journal, tell the story of the society and journal, from formation to the present day.

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[00:00:00] My name is Frank Horan. I am currently Emeritus Editor of the journal and formally an editor. I now propose to you to give you a short account of the history of the journal. The earliest journals devoted to orthopedic surgery were principally from Germany, with the Zeit Shiff orthopedic being perhaps the best known. Publication in English did not start prior to the formation of the American Orthopedic Association.

This organization had its first meeting in June, 1887. It followed a meeting, held in the house of Dr. Schafer, a prominent New York orthopedic surgeon. And it was decided that a meeting would be held. The reason for the formation of the association was that there were an increasing number of surgeons in the United States, practicing orthopedics, virtually solely, although plainly there were still many [00:01:00] general surgeons performing our specialty.

However, it was felt that people should join together. And in particular, Dr. Schafer mentioned the need to have a closer liaison with orthopedic surgeons in Europe. The first meeting then was held in June the 15th and 16th. And the next one was a year later. At the time of the meeting, Dr. Schafer again, emphasized the need for such an association, not only to bring together American orthopedic surgeons, but also to secure a better recognition Europe for American orthopedic surgery.

After the second meeting in 1889, it was decided to publish transactions. These were simply records of the meetings which had been held and did not contain any other original material. The American association began to thrive. And in 1903, they [00:02:00] felt that it was reasonable to change the title to the American Journal of Orthopedic Surgery.

The reason for this was because they decided that they would encourage submissions from people who did not necessarily attend their meetings. They continued to be a successful entity. And matters proceeded smoothly until the Great War. Now, the interesting thing about this particular g ghastly exercise was that the American forces came in to the combat in Europe in about 1917.

Prominent American orthopedic surgeons had realized that this was going to be the case. And Joel Goethweight, who was an orthopedic surgeon in Boston, had gathered together a number of orthopedic surgeons who would be prepared to come to Europe to help treat their expedition force. Meanwhile, Robert Jones, doyen of British orthopedics had been [00:03:00] charged with organizing the care of the wounded from the First World War and by the middle of 1916 to 1917, he had established a string of hospitals around the United Kingdom treating solely wounded soldiers from the Western front.

The principal one in London was at the Hammersmith hospital. And when the Americans came over, most of their surgeons were centered there. Robert Osgood, another orthopedic surgeon from Boston was a leading member of this group and found himself as the principal assistant to Robert Jones in the organization of affairs.

Now plainly the meetings of this large group of surgeons, provoke considerable interest among them all, and Osgood suggested to Robert Jones, the formation of the British Orthopedic Association. [00:04:00] Now it may be wondered why we were so late in this country in having such an organization. There had been earlier attempts with a British orthopedic society meeting

as early as 1894, the meetings were held either in London, Bath, Birmingham, or Liverpool. And the principle aim was to try and steer away the care fractures from general surgeons. However, the society only lasted for four years. There were several reasons for this. Firstly, people did not particularly like traveling the distances involved.

And secondly, British medicine was at that time dominated, particularly by surgeons and teaching hospitals in central London. And the relationships between the various parties were not always smooth. This society did publish transactions, which was simply records of the meetings, which is circulated to members, but, and never [00:05:00] achieved particular status.

Now I may be wondered whether the surgeons at this time produced any clinical papers or observations, which might have been published plainly, there were far less than there are now, but British surgeons did write. And the papers were sent either to the journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, where an orthopedic section was founded in 1919.

Previous to that, it had been a subsection of the section in surgery. So papers were published in the journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, the British Journal of Surgery, or in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. So we come towards the end of the Great War, and the question of the foundation of the British Orthopedic Association arose again, a preliminary meeting was held in the Cafe Royal in November, 1917, and there were 18 prominent orthopedic surgeons present.[00:06:00] 

It was decided to form a society. And the first meeting was held in February, 1918, chaired by Walter Bristow. Now the question of a journal arose, where would they publish papers if they produced them due to Osgood's influence, it was decided that the American journal would also become the official volume of the British Orthopedic Association.

Therefore it changed its title. And in 1919 became the Journal of Orthopedic Surgery looking after the two associations. This continued as a title until 1922. When, because of the increasing influence and scope of orthopedic surgery, the title was changed to the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. The editor then was Elliott Bracket who was a potent force in the spread and success of the journal.

He was of course, based in [00:07:00] Boston. Now matters, continued reasonably well. From the British point of view, we had a, a member of the editorial board of the American journal, but plainly because of the difficulties in travel, where it was necessary to spend virtually a week in a boat to get to North America, the two outfits never met, arrangements were done by correspondence.

There was a British editorial committee. But a problem arose because of the paucity of the papers from the UK and also the American editor had the final choice. This resulted in rumblings of discontent from those in the UK who did not have their papers accepted when they wished. With the formation of the American Academy in the early 1930s, the journal became also the official publication of that organization.

Such affairs continued until the Second World War. However, in England, TP McMurray, prominent orthopedic surgeon from Liverpool [00:08:00] felt in 1938, that this should be an independent journal and expressed this at meetings of the council of the British Orthopedic Association. In 1943, the role of British editorial secretary was discussed again.

And it was felt that we in the UK did not have sufficient access to publications. And therefore in 1944, a subcommittee of the BOA was established to consider the situation. It is noted in the minutes of the association that in August, 1946, we favored the establishment of a British journal. It must also be remembered that because of the Second World War orthopedic surgeons from the Commonwealth and the United States were centered in Great Britain.

And therefore among our colonial colleagues, the wish to have a separate method of publication was clearly expressed the. The BOA gave Sir Reginald Watson-Jones, the task of implementing progress. Now at this time, the [00:09:00] Americans were somewhat concerned at this new venture. They recognized the need for a journal organized from London and looking particularly to people from the Commonwealth.

But on the other hand, they did not wish to lose the links which have been built up over the years. At this time, William Rogers was the American editor and the president of the American Orthopedic Association was RA Harris, a Canadian from Toronto. They were particularly anxious to keep the link and came across in May, 1947 to meet the BOA,

and in particular Sir Reginald Watson-Jones. At this meeting, it was decided that the British should publish a journal, but retain the old title of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, but be considered as the British volume. The first meeting of the editorial board of the British volume was held on July the 25th, 1947.

The chairman [00:10:00] was Professor Harry Platt, later Sir Harry, and the editor Sir Reginald Watson-Jones. Now Watson-Jones was a key figure in British orthopedics, a man of great drive and personality. He produced a classic book on the management of fractures written in the early part of the war. This became a worldwide Bible being the first major textbook on fractures published in English.

Now Sir Reginald had very wide connections. One of the problems in establishing a journal at this time was the lack of paper, which was rationed. He approached the late Harold Wilson, who was then President to the Board of Trade and eventually became Prime Minister and paper was allowed. Sir Reginald was also the orthopedic surgeon to the Royal family,

and when the first volume was produced, he sent a copy to the King. We have in the archives, a letter from, Sir Alan Sells who was the principal secretary to the King, [00:11:00] congratulating us on the production of the journal and wishing its success. Now the journal flourished from its early days from the British side, the British Orthopedic Association were prepared to pick up any financial deficit, but this was never necessary.

The masthead of the journal for both the British and American volumes contained details of the two editorial boards, the secretaries, and those who are mainly assisting in the production of the journal. Because of the relative financial success and the realization that the journal should not be looked upon as an arm of the British Orthopedic Association, a fresh society was formed in 1953, the British Editorial Society of Bone and Joint Surgery.

This organization exists still in pretty much the form in which it was devised. It is entirely separate from any other connection, financially independent and has no reliance on [00:12:00] the British Orthopedic Association. The latter have a place on the council of management by invitation, since the president attends the meetings.

The virtue of the editorial society has meant that the journal can remain entirely independent, both financially and as regards it to educational content. The society achieved charitable status, which has been a considerable help in its financial success. However, it must be remembered that the basis of this status lies in and I quote 'the advancement of education and diffusion of knowledge in orthopedic and allied surgery'.

This means that the journal is our principle means of fulfilling this mission, but also we would be free to run courses, provide scholarships and similar activities. This is partly done by offering funding to the traveling fellowships from Britain to [00:13:00] the United States. Now, initially the journal was housed in the Royal College of Surgeons, but relationships were not entirely sound because of the amount of rent, which the college felt was appropriate,

and so the organization was moved to the rooms of Sir Reginald Watson-Jones in Great Portland Street. He had three floors of a building there being a basement ground floor, and first floor, and the journal was placed in the basement. Initially we produced four volumes per year. If you care to look at them now, you will see that there were principally accounts of case studies, case reports and similar.

These were generally speaking written by eminent orthopedic surgeons of the day. The journal was reasonably successful and increased in size. And by 1981, there were five British and five American volumes. And by 1990, 12 American and six British when John Goodfellow was editor, it became [00:14:00] clear to him that our publication of abstracts of papers, read at meetings simply took up too much space and therefore he initiated the supplement.

Now this still exists and indeed is immensely popular. When I was editor, I thought perhaps it was an unnecessary expense, but when I made inquiries as to whether people found it appropriate, I was told very clearly that it was to continue. Currently we have the abstracts of some 46 national international societies and produce three numbers per year.

These are indexed on Medline and people find them very useful, particularly when undergoing research activities. Now, apart from publishing the supplement and the main journal when the European Federation of Orthopedics and Trauma came into being, they decided to publish European instructional course lectures.

The first meeting of this association, which was in Paris was dealt with by Massel a [00:15:00] French publication company in this respect, but the standard of the translations and editing was not felt to be adequate. Therefore, the journal was asked to take the matter on it became clear that with the increasing amount of basic scientific research undertaken, in orthopedic surgery that a journal was required, which would deal with this aspect of our work. In the United States

it was the journal of orthopedic research, but people in Europe felt that they had difficulty in getting publication in this journal. We were therefore approached by the European Orthopedic Research Society as to whether we could help them in funding a journal of their own, the practicalities were that a separate publication would not have been financially possible, but we decided that we would in association with EORS open a separate research section within our journal. Neil Rushton became editor of this, and it has been extremely [00:16:00] successful and we still carry on with it.

Now, overall the size of the journal gradually increased. The American volumes by 1990 had reached 12 issues per year, the British came up from six to eight in 1999. And by 2005 to one per month, namely 12 per year coming out more or less at the same time as the Americans. The reason for this was partly because of the great increase in papers that we have been offered.

And secondly, because of the ease of marketing and organization running a monthly volume, now you may ask, how is the journal produced? Well, we have an editorial board. There are 35 members at the current time with representatives from Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Europe, EFORT and EORS. The members from the Commonwealth come

but once a year, but otherwise we meet [00:17:00] for five times each year in our headquarters at 22 Buckingham Street, just off the Strand. Now, what is the object of these meetings? The way that papers are dealt with is by sending them out to two reviewers initially. And if agreement is reached, the paper will probably then be published.

If they disagree, they are sent out to further reviewers. And if we cannot get a clear view of people's opinion of the paper, they will then be discussed at the editorial board when the full membership of that board is present. Usually out of this times, rather heated level of discussion, a proper consensus is achieved and the editor will go ahead and publish the paper.

We are currently getting over 1500 papers per year and a publishing perhaps 220. Now I will say no more, really about the journal because the organization as such on a day to day basis is the responsibility of the editor. And I've simply given you a history of our [00:18:00] publication. But remember that the object of the journal is to educate orthopedic surgeons.

It's our sole reason for existence. And we take pride in trying to produce papers of the highest standard written and edited in a way which will be understandable to all our readers. It must be remembered that over half of our readers do not have English as their first language. We continue to manage well, we are still in relationship with our American colleagues, and I think that the journal will go ahead for many years.

It may be said that the internet will take over from the paper editions. I do not share this view. We have a well developed website, which increases in complexity and content every year, but the paper journal fulfills a different need and we hope it remains as it were a good read.