What They Say...
New England Journal of Medicine
Volume 336:885-886 March 20, 1997 Number 12
McGill Journal of Medicine (MJM): An international forum for the
advancement of medical science by students
Whenever you might think that the world as you perceive it will soon
disappear, always remember that the actual situation is better than
you think. A reminder of that comforting principle recently crossed
my desk in the form of the McGill Journal of Medicine (MJM), a student
journal that made its debut in the spring of 1995. Jonathan Lim, a second-year
medical student, was instrumental in founding the MJM and served as
its first editor-in-chief. A new editor-in-chief takes over annually
and is either a second- or third-year medical student. The rest of the
editorial staff consists entirely of students, and students at McGill
or elsewhere write most of the articles. The MJM has been widely circulated
at no cost to medical schools in Canada, the United States, and other
countries, a tactic that has elicited articles from students around
A student-run MJM was launched at McGill in 1947 but ceased publication
in 1951. This reincarnation is outstanding in many ways. The journal
itself is a handsome, beautifully produced product, with glossy covers
and high-grade paper stock. The advertisements do not interrupt the
text, and the illustrations, many in color, are excellent. The original
articles that have appeared thus far cover numerous aspects of medicine.
Articles on Wilms' tumor, spondylolysis, a survey of health in southwestern
Ethiopia, apoptosis in mammary cancer cells, and atrial pacing indicate
the breadth of topics. There are good reviews (including contributions
from faculty members at McGill), case reports, and miscellaneous commentaries,
the last under the rubric "Crossroads." These articles, reviews,
and commentaries are well written — some would easily find a place
in mainstream journals. The spring 1997 issue features a forum on tumor
markers, with reviews of carcinoembryonic antigen and CA-125 by senior
As far as I could determine, the MJM is the only regularly published
and widely distributed student-run medical journal in the world. It
even has its own home page on the World Wide Web. McGill's students
deserve high praise for a thoroughly professional entry into the world
of medical publishing. If they decide to take aim at 10 Shattuck Street,
watch out, Dr. Kassirer!
Robert S. Schwartz, M.D.
Journal of the American Medical Association
November 5, 1997
The McGill Journal of Medicine (MJM) serves as an international,
peer reviewed journal comprised totally of student contributions. An
independent organization run by students at McGill University in Montreal
manages this unique medical journal. MJM clearly lists its commercial,
academic, and private financial supporters. The journal strives to address
the need for a publication that features work solely from students to "serve
notice that they can make a difference in the research community." The
intended readership consists of students, residents, scientists, and
physicians around the world.
Original research and review articles relevant to medicine form the
major sections of MJM. Two unique features are "Crossroad" and "MJM
Focus." "Crossroads" consists of articles addressing
the interrelationships of the humanities and medicine. In "MJM
Focus" a series of articles explores the clinical, scientific,
and pathological features of a medical specialty.
The manuscript review process has two distinct stages. Appointed
student editors, whose names are published in the journal, conduct the
initial review. These editors are chosen based on aptitude, interest,
and research experience. A faculty member who has expertise in the paper's
subject matter conducts the second phase of the manuscript review. Comments
to the authors compiled from these two review stages are combined with
the evaluations from the editor-in-chief and the executive and senior
editors. The MJM editorial board then makes the final decision to accept,
reject, or defer publication of each manuscript.
The instructions for authors begin with a statement of the intended
MJM subject content. Articles are requested in the humanities (history
of medicine, health policy, ethics, and similar topics), clinical medicine
(epidemiology, surgery, case reports, clinical trials), and basic sciences
(physiology, cell biology, biochemistry, and other areas). MJM focuses
on student work, so the first author must be a student. All other authors
should be sufficiently involved in the work to take public responsibility
for the article's content. Each article begins with an abstract (maximum
240 words) and a key word list. The text follows the standard format
of introduction, methodology, results, and discussion, and it may not
exceed 5,000 words. The acknowledgement section credits contributions
that did not justify authorship such as technical, financial, or material
support. References are cited numerically and listed in full at the
end. Only four tables or figures may accompany an article. A brief biography
of the first author appears at the end of the article. Corrections and
retractions are published under "errata" at the end of each
MJM appears to be managed in a very professional manner and seems
to be adhering to its initial goals. The original articles have maintained
a high level of scientific merit and quality. The review articles have
focussed on topical discussions on a wide range of disease processes
with some introduction of new pharmacologic agents. Both the editorial
section and "Letters to MJM" have addressed the inevitable
problems and differences that arise in the development of a new journal.
The students who assemble the journal also seem to be gaining immeasurable
experience as they strive to continue this excellent effort.
The two most impressive sections are "Crossroads" and "MJM
Focus." The timely "Crossroads" retrospectives illuminate
the value of a broad look at scientific developments and ethical issues.
It seems remarkable that students can develop this perspective at such
an early stage in their careers. The unique "MJM Focus" provides
a profile of the specialty, a clinical review pertinent to that specialty,
and a case report to solidify the concepts elucidated in these previous
two sections. This portion of the journal should prove particularly
useful to students, not only in highlighting their interests and talents,
but in providing a solid, contained discussion of the focus topic.
As this journal continues to grow and evolve, it should endeavor to
maintain this level of excellence and to offer bright, gifted students
a venue to express their creativity. We recommend MJM for libraries
in schools of medicine and for those academic medical centers where
students engage in research. Full-text back issues are available via
the World Wide Web.
In the end, MJM's greatest accomplishments may be its introduction
of novel ideas and interpretations of scientific research. It may help
young, unknown scientists who are developing new approaches to disease
processes to overcome some of the obstacles they frequently face. MJM
may prove to be an important forum for those who will be the leaders
in medical science during the 21st century.
Gale Hansen Starich, PhD
Joan S. Zenan, MLS
University of Nevada
School of Medicine
Annals of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
I don't recall ever seeing a more professional-looking student-produced
medical journal. I was equally impressed by the quality of the contents
and by the rigorous editorial policies you have established.
I would like to bring to your attention a review of the MJM in the
October 1996 issue of the Annals of the Royal College of Physicians
and Surgeons of Canada [Annals RCPSC 29(7):424-5]. The review appears
"MJM (McGill Journal of Medicine), An international forum for
the advancement of medical science by students, Volume 1, Numbers 1 & 2,
Spring and Fall/Winter 1995, Volume 2 Number 1, Spring 1996.
This splendidly produced journal, Perfect bound with glossy red covers
and printed on heavy stock glossy paper, ran to 180 pages plus end matter
in its first year and seems set to be about the same size in 1996. Its
editorial board and staff in its first year were almost all students
in the classes of 1997 and 1998; this year they have been replenished
with students from the class of 1999. The Faculty Advisor is Dr. Phil
Gold. It has a rigorous editorial policy that includes formal peer review,
and sets out the requirements for authors in a professional manner that
some journals run by experienced physicians could adopt with benefit.
Almost all the contributing authors are students, from far afield in
Canada and elsewhere, as well as from McGill. They mostly write with
real professionalism. Their articles cover a wide range, including scholarly
clinical and basic science papers, case reports, review articles, epidemiological
surveys, clinicopathological reports and medico-legal papers. Some articles,
for instance very interesting reports on aspects of community health
in Ethiopia and Brazil, are illustrated in colour. No expense has been
spared, yet the journal carries very little advertising so it must be
extremely well subsidized financially. It is entirely in English.
As one of my former-student friends once remarked, the only problem
with medical students is that we self-destruct, or as another former-student
friend put it, we have a very sharply defined "Use by..." date.
I hope the editorial staff can ensure continuity because this journal
deserves to survive. As for self-destructing, editors like me who are
approaching or have entered their dotage can take comfort from this
demonstration that able and talented future recruits to the editorial
craft are ready and waiting.
All of you who have worked on this deserve high praise for your efforts.
John Last, M.D., F.R.C.P.(C), F.R.A.C.P.
Editor, Annals RCPSC