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Revelations of an insider
How was a journal “fit for wrapping fish and chips”1 transformed into an organisation, with papers read by research workers as soon as they had been accepted, a wide variety of review articles published for the general reader, and a circulation of over 10 000? The changes began about 25 years ago and have accelerated during the past 10 years.
Archives of Disease in Childhood (ADC) was founded by the British Medical Association (BMA) as the first house specialist journal in 1926. In Britain there were about 50 physicians with a special interest in diseases of children and a handful who worked exclusively with children.
“Some of the medical men whose work lies mainly among children had suggested that the BMA should publish a new journal”.2
The editor of the BMJ, Sir Dawson Williams, had been a paediatrician before becoming a full time journalist and this may have influenced his decision to support this risky proposal. The British Journal of Children’s Diseases had been published from 1904 and was a competitor for the small number of subscriptions. At the first meeting of the Archives’ editorial committee the present title was adopted and Hugh Thursfield and Reginald Miller were appointed joint editors.3 Sir Thomas Barlow stated in his introduction to the first edition that the reasons for the new publication were that conclusions scattered through various publications should be available, there should be opportunities for research to be published and criticised, and adoption of research into practice should be promoted.4 The early editors were slow in implementing Barlow’s first objective and about 50 years would pass before they published two review papers a year. The British Paediatric Association (BPA) was formed in 1928 and in 1944 was allowed to nominate the editors and …