The first editorial for Brain Impairment was entitled ‘Landmark development’. Published in May 2000, the editorial both told a story and painted a context. In two paragraphs it recounted the pioneering work of Professor John Walsh and the history of the first two decades of the Australian Society for the Study of Brain Impairment (ASSBI), culminating in the foundation of the journal. In telling this story, the context for the journal was also outlined. Reflecting the nature of ASSBI, the journal would aim to be multidisciplinary and to address the full range of conditions that affect brain function across the lifespan.
In the inaugural issue, certain elements were introduced that have become part of the DNA of Brain Impairment: the Presidential address, at that time from the 22nd National ASSBI Conference; the prize-winning student abstracts; papers authored by collaborating interdisciplinary writers; and the editorial board, with a mix of leading national and international academics and clinical researchers. The most cited paper in the 15-year history of Brain Impairment was also published in that first issue, ‘Reconstruction of identity after brain injury’, one small part of the enduring legacy of Professor Mark Ylvisaker.
The 15 years that Professor Jacinta Douglas and Professor Robyn Tate have been at the helm of the journal as foundation editors have been ones of dedication and hard, hard, hard work. It is commonly observed that the first million dollars is the most difficult to make. The same could be said of pioneering the establishment of a peer-review journal. In particular, the stories of Robyn and Jacinta doing the copy editing for every article in those early issues and volumes is enough to send a shiver down the spine of any contemporary editor. Despite such adversity, the achievement of Robyn and Jacinta is a triumph. They have produced a journal which has consistently attained the highest levels of intellectual rigour, setting the benchmark for future years. They have also captured the spirt of ASSBI, with the issues and volumes displaying a rich diversity of perspectives and approaches that contribute to our ever-increasing knowledge about brain impairment and its effects.
However, the journal's development has also been the result of dedicated Editorial Board members, the wisdom and support of the Publications Committee and the underlying commitment of the ASSBI Executive Committee and the Association at large to the success of the journal. Out of this hard work, commitment and support, many further substantive milestones have been achieved: 40 issues and two supplements have been produced; a total of 248 papers published; the academic standards that manuscripts needed to conform to articulated (Tate & Douglas, 2011); the achievement of an ISI ranking; the transition from Australian Academic Press to Cambridge University Press; and the introduction of an electronic manuscript submission system (ScholarOne).
So as the first-change editors, we take over the helm of a ship left in very good order; a growing impact factor; increasing numbers of submissions; as well as a place for supporting emerging researchers and authors. Associate Professor Jenny Fleming has been an Associate Editor of Brain Impairment since 2006; Associate Professor Grahame Simpson an Editorial Board member since 2005, and Associate Editor since 2012. Between the two of us, three disciplines are represented (occupational therapy, social work and psychology), and with the appointment of the first new Associate Editor, Associate Professor Petrea Cornwall, the discipline of speech pathology. Part of the vision that Robyn Tate and Jacinta Douglas have had for the journal is to expand the number of Associate Editors. This will come to fruition over the next few months, ensuring that other professions are also represented at the Editorial level, in the true multidisciplinary spirit of Brain Impairment. The contemporary academic publishing environment continues to be dynamic, fiercely competitive and fast moving, in which the core challenges are always ‘. . . what have you done today; and what are your plans for tomorrow?’ We hope to be able to take up this challenge over the months and years ahead, building on the solid foundation that the foundation editors have created.
This year will showcase much of the diversity that is Brain Impairment. The first issue (16.1) will feature a number of papers that focus on different aspects of cognition; including both cognitive assessment and rehabilitation. The second issue will feature papers addressing community participation, the environment and the lived experiences of family carers. In December, a Special Issue led by Jenny with guest editor, Dr Suzanne Kuys, will focus on physical activity in neurological populations. Finally, the contents of this first issue under the new editorial team resonate with echoes from that inaugural issue: another Presidential address, this time from the 37th National Conference; last year's group of prize-winning student abstracts; and more articles from collaborating interdisciplinary authors, ensuring that, along with some things new, a continuity with the history and identity of the journal is preserved and celebrated.