BIRTH 40:4 December 2013
EDITORIAL Greetings from the New Editor In Chief I am very pleased to be assuming the editorship of Birth, and I am grateful for the opportunity to guide a journal with such an important subject matter and such an illustrious history. The importance of birth as a life event cannot be overemphasized, as it is the means by which new life is created and the species continues. It is an event that we all experience, and it is imbued with great meaning and personal and cultural signiﬁcance. In thinking about what readers would want to know about their new editor, I thought that they would want to know something about my background and qualiﬁcations for the position, and also about what my goals are for the journal. With respect to my background, I will start in 1984 when I was living in a North Indian village doing anthropological ﬁeldwork on marriage and childbearing patterns. Although I had long harbored a fascination with culture and how it affects personality and behavior, this experience of cultural immersion was relatively new to me, but one that proved very valuable to almost all of my subsequent endeavors. I returned to Australia and wrote up my results, earning a Ph.D. in Demography from the Australian National University in 1987. After a brief consultancy in Bangladesh, and time spent in Africa, I returned to my native United States and soon after joined the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where I have worked for the past 25 years in two major capacities: producing the vital statistics (including birth, infant death, and stillbirth) data for the nation, and as a researcher on issues surrounding the birthing process. I have published extensively on topics of interest to Birth readers, including on home and outof-hospital births, cesarean delivery, preterm birth, and infant, fetal, and perinatal mortality. One of my major research interests has been on changes in the culture of medical intervention during delivery, and how the use and overuse of procedures such as cesarean section and
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induction of labor have affected the timing of birth (i.e., iatrogenic prematurity or near-prematurity) and infant health. I also spent a decade as the NCHS Project Ofﬁcer for the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort, a U.S. Department of Education study which examined the health, development, care, and education of some 20,000 U.S. children from birth through ﬁrst grade. So, what are my plans for the future of the journal? They are largely to endeavor to ﬁll the huge (though I am sure, petite) shoes of my predecessor, Diony Young. Diony was editor of this journal for 22 years, from 1990 through 2012, and her contributions both to this journal and to the ﬁeld of birthing science are immense and immeasurable. She was known for her many insightful and passionate editorials on current topics in birthing research. Some of my personal favorites included: “Family-centered maternity care: Is the central nursery obsolete?” (December 1992); “The push against vaginal birth” (September 2003); and “Home birth in the United States: Action and reaction” (December 2008). Of course, this list would not be complete without mentioning Diony’s famous and hugely inﬂuential essay published in September 2006 immediately after the unfortunately named NIH Stateof-the-Science conference on Cesarean Delivery on Maternal Request, and entitled: “Cesarean delivery on maternal request: Was the NIH conference based on a faulty premise?” Diony took Birth from a little known journal with an impact factor of 0.320 in 1990, to become the #1 ranked journal in both nursing science and nursing social science in 2012, with an impact factor of 2.926. Birth’s readers and editorial board members owe her a huge debt of gratitude for the amazing job she has done over the past 22 years! I plan to carry on Diony’s work by continuing to publish papers of the highest scientiﬁc quality, on important and policy-relevant topics, while maintaining Birth’s humanistic and woman-centered focus. In the past, the journal leadership has not been afraid to take unpopular stances on issues when the scientiﬁc evidence went
216 against conventional practice, and I promise that this evidence-based focus will continue during my tenure. One of my main goals as editor is to reduce the time from submission to decision and then publication for all manuscripts, and we have already taken important steps to reach this goal. The online editorial system that was started in April should also help to improve timeliness, as submissions, reviews, and decisions can all be made within this system. I also am proud to announce the addition of several outstanding new editorial board members who will help to broaden the international focus of the journal, with new members from Argentina, Sweden, and the Netherlands, among other countries (see editorial board
BIRTH 40:4 December 2013
member list in the front cover of journal). I have updated the Author Guidelines, and added new categories of papers such as Brief Reports and Systematic Reviews, which you will soon see in the journal. Finally, I would like to thank Diony Young, Marc Keirse, and all of the Birth editorial board members for their insight, encouragement, and hard work during this transition. Together we can make this journal even better—more timely, more relevant, and with even greater policy impact. Marian MacDorman Editor, Birth