About The Journal
News and Press
Editorial: Why Another Journal?
Dermanities March 3, 2003; 1(1)
Herein, we announce the publication of Dermanities, an online journal devoted to the humanities and social sciences as they relate to cutaneous medicine in particular, and including in its purview all of the practice of medicine. Dermanities is free to all readers and is intended as a gathering place at which physicians, patients and patient’s families can meet to consider areas of mutual interest and need.
In concert with the Zeitgeist, we embrace the Budapest Open Access Initiative (http://www.soros.org/openaccess/read.shtml) which aims “to [remove] access barriers to the literature [and to] accelerate research, enrich education, share the learning of the rich with the poor and the poor with the rich, make this literature as useful as it can be, and lay the foundation for uniting humanity in a common intellectual conversation and quest for knowledge.” To achieve this, our journal is open to all readers and all copyrights will reside with the authors and not with Journal. Acceptance of articles will take days to weeks, not months to years.
At last count, there were 81 dermatology journals indexed by MEDLINE, the most comprehensive citation storage and retrieval system on this planet. Some are familiar to most practicing dermatologists, while others appeal primarily to basic science researchers, photobiologists, cutaneous surgeons or other special interest groups. All 81 cover the same territory: namely the science of skin, clinical disease, techniques and procedures. Little space is devoted to the humane aspects of our specialty: i.e. literature, art, poetry, and the social sciences.
In an attempt to quantitate coverage of the arts and social sciences in the dermatology literature, the MEDLINE database was searched for articles addressing the physician-patient relationship or the philosophy of medicine in the world’s three major dermatology journals (Table). These are the major MeSH headings for Francis W. Peabody’s landmark article, “The Care of the Patient,”1 one of the most respected and cited articles ever written. We compared these to citations for pemphigus, a rare disorder. The results are illuminating.
MEDLINE Citations for Patient-Physician Relations and Philosophy, Medical
Compared with those for Pemphigus from Major Dermatology Journals
1966 - 2000
|Total # Citations
|Br. Journal Dermatol
|J Am Acad Dermatol
Of these 31,000 citations, only 30 (0.1%) addressed the physician-patient relationship or the philosophy of medicine. In contrast, 708 articles (2.3%) discussed pemphigus, a disorder seen only once or twice a year by most practicing dermatologists, and possibly unknown to most patients with skin disease.
Although we have suspected that our dermatology journals neglect important aspects of patient care and of being a doctor, these data are stunning. Dermanities will attempt to redress these omissions by reporting on and covering humane medicine with a special focus on cutaneous medicine. Perhaps, no one said it better than John Keating, the volatile hero of “The Dead Poets Society:”3
We don't read and write poetry because it is cute; we read and write poetry because we are members of the human race; and the human race is filled with passion. Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life; but poetry, beauty, romance, love - these are what we stay alive for.
Dermanities will consider submissions addressing the following areas.
- Medicine and Literature, Art, Film, Music
- Illness Narratives: from patients, their families and physicians
- Cross-cultural aspects of care and illness
- Dermatology and Industry
- Religion & Spirituality in Dermatology
- Physician Well-Being and Health
- The Patient-Doctor Relationship
- History of Dermatology
- Dermographies: Biographies of individuals who have enriched dermatology and medicine
We encourage authors on these subjects to submit studies, essays, or editorial opinions. We echo Rudolph Virchow, the father of modern pathology, who when starting his journal said, “In my journal, anyone can make a fool of himself.” By this, we mean: don’t play it safe; in Dermanities you can go out on a limb.
It is clear that accepting sponsorship from industry or special interest groups will limit our ability to cover important subjects. For this reason, Dermanities will solicit no advertisements. The dependence on advertising revenue has stifled free expression in many professional journals.
The Journal will rely on the voluntary donations of its readership and unrestricted support by corporate entities to cover its modest operating expenses. By and large, the journal will rely on the dedication and spirit of its editorial board and that of its readership.
Dermanities will partner with the Alliance for Humane Dermatology (AHD) which will be a repository of information such as: reading lists, book reviews, humor, poetry, quotations, travel, conferences of special interest, website and consumer links and more.
Perusal of this Issue will speak more eloquently than any long-winded editorial. We close with the words of our professional forefather and mentor, William Osler:
More than any other, the practitioner of Medicine may illustrate the great lesson, that we are here not to get all we can out of life for ourselves, but to try to make the lives of others happier. The practice of medicine is an art, not a trade: a calling not a business; a calling in which your heart will be exercised equally with your head. Often the best part of your work will have nothing to do with powders or potions, but with the exercise of an influence of the strong upon the weak, of the righteous upon the wicked, the wise upon the foolish.....Courage and cheerfulness will not only carry you over the rough places of life, but will enable you to bring comfort and help to the weak-hearted and will console you in the sad hours when, like Uncle Toby, you have 'to whistle that you may not weep'.4
1 Peabody FW. The Care of the Patient: JAMA 1927;88:877-882
2 Elpern DJ. The care of patients. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2002 Aug;47(2):317-8.
3 Peter Weir, director, The Dead Poets Society (1989)
4 Osler W. Aequanimitas and Other Addresses 3rd Edition. Philadelphia: Blackiston’s Son; 1932 (In the chapter: “The Master Word in Medicine)