A Message from Incoming JHL Editor, Anne Merewood

In England, you learn to talk, and shortly thereafter, to answer the question, “What will you be when you grow up?” For better or worse, kids soon set a goal, be it fireman, footballer, or pharmacologist. My brother planned to be a horse, one of the few aims he didn’t achieve. The UK education system plays into this – from around age 14 students begin to specialize. I studied English Literature at Cambridge University. I didn’t major in English Literature, I read English Literature for my BA, and nothing else.

 After graduating, I entered a field related, arguably, to Literature – journalism; specifically, BBC TV news. I learned editing, news writing and film-making, and met Paul McCartney and Phil Collins. I then married (not Paul or Phil, but Gerassimakis) and moved to Greece for a year before my husband took a research post at Harvard in 1987. For over 10 years, I freelanced as a writer, but after my three boys were born, I wanted a change, a career with meaning, and a five figure income. For the usual reasons – personal obstacles met with inadequate answers – lactation attracted me. I became an IBCLC in 1999, gained my MPH in 2006, and my PhD from Cambridge in 2010. During this time I moved away from the purely clinical into teaching and my grown up passion – research.

My vision for JHL emerges from this mottled background in science and journalism. I believe excellent research and accessibility can be – indeed, must be – compatible. Research is fun – exciting – an endless creative torrent of new information pouring from the pages to readers thirsting for knowledge. Writers and editors must make this knowledge accessible for practicing clinicians and personal enlightenment. At JHL, I will strive to increase clarity and readability of research, reduce restrictive jargon, and battle against – yes – the distancing drone of the passive voice. The first rule of good writing is to make the reader read it. Why are so many academic journals hard to read and, frankly, so boring?

Before the purists run screaming for the archives, I don’t advocate sacrificing quality for over-simplification. Specific terminology is critical and beautiful, nothing beats clarity of meaning in excellent writing. Indeed some of our breastfeeding terminology could use a dose of epidemiologic precision. As more than one epidemiologist has asked me, what do you mean by a breastfeeding rate?

With all this in mind, changes I hope to bring to JHL will include some revamping of  writers’ guidelines. We will print longer, structured abstracts, and shorter articles. We will feature student research, expert round tables, and regular themed issues, the first of which will focus on the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, in August 2012. Editorially speaking, Donna Chapman, RD, PhD, will remain as Associate Editor; Supriya Mehta, MHS, PhD, (Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Chicago School of Public Health) will join us as Methods Editor. We will create an International Advisory Board to involve proactive non-US researchers, and subject area Assistant Editors to reach more expert reviewers in the ever growing field of lactation research.

A field, it seems, that failed thus far to nourish my English family. When I announced my new position, my brother shook his sadly depleted mane and said, “the Journal of What?” I proceed undaunted, despite my healthily humbling British roots. Touring SAGE Publications back in June, I was delighted to discover so many strange people like myself – ex newspaper editors polishing scientific tables; ex lab technicians crunching data and deadlines. I had found what I grew up to be. I hope my platform of readable research will serve ILCA members well for many years to come.

 Anne Merewood PhD, MPH, IBCLC

Incoming JHL Editor

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6 Responses to A Message from Incoming JHL Editor, Anne Merewood

  1. Roberta Graham de Escobedo 2 August 2011 at 20:03 #

    Anne, I enjoyed the vision of your brother’s sadly depleted mane shaking back and forth……as he exclaimed “the Journal of WHAT?” .
    We all come up against the odd comment when attempting to explain our profession and day-to-day activities, but having a respected Journal as ours gives weight and merit to our profession. Welcome aboard, as you step into the editor’s shoes over the next few months and walk them in a new direction come January 2012 !

  2. Liz Brooks 3 August 2011 at 10:36 #

    Anne, your vision for JHL, your wit, and your devotion to purpose will serve the journal, the profession, and ILCA well.

  3. Evi Adams 3 August 2011 at 18:18 #

    Anne – you are my kind of babe/lactette/doctor (bravo),

    Please tell your brother that had he fulfilled his wish to be a horse when he grew up he would know that horses lactate and would happily accept info from the JHL if it existed in the equine
    Looking forward to your work as the new editor of JHL. Each editor builds on the wonderful work of the previous one.

    Evi Adams, IBCLC

  4. Anna M. Heh 3 August 2011 at 18:37 #

    Welcome. Wonderful to hear the clarity you will bring to research. Can’t wait to read the research and see the changes you will make.

  5. Karen Geertsen 1 September 2011 at 23:00 #

    I enjoyed your article and the humor (or humour) which you infused into your introduction. Can’t wait to read the new version of our great journal.

  6. Martin Ronis 1 March 2012 at 16:55 #

    Hi Anne

    Loved your article. Glad to see you as editor of JHL. I know you will bring your enthusiasm and drive to this new endevor as you have to everything else you have done during your career. What a long strange trip it has been…I would never have imagined when we were sitting together as classmates in the library office at Huddersfiled New College or later when we knew each other at Cambridge, that you would end up follwing a path that takes you almost parallel to my own scientific voyage to a point where we are working in the same area – lactation and health consequences of breast feeding vs. formula. Good luck with the editorship and your own very interesting research.

    Martin Ronis
    Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, Department of Pediatrcis
    Universitry of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
    Associate Director for Basic Research
    Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center
    Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute

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