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Nulla dies sine linea
  1. Andrea Cipriani
  1. Correspondence to Dr Andrea Cipriani, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 7JX, UK; andrea.cipriani{at}psych.ox.ac.uk

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Nulla dies sine linea is a Latin saying which can be literally translated into: ‘Not a single day without a line’. In his book Naturalis Historia, Pliny the Elder (23–79 AD) attributes this maxim to Apelles of Kos, an ancient Greek painter. Apelles lived in the fourth century BC and was a renowned artist who worked at the court of Philip II of Macedon. Unfortunately, nothing is left of his work (not even the very famous portrait of Alexander the Great), but Apelles was regarded as one of the most influential and progressive artists of his period.1 Of Apelles and drawing lines Pliny says: Apelli fuit…perpetua consuetudo numquam tam occupatum diem agendi, ut non lineam ducendo exerceret artem,… (“Apelles had…a regular custom that he never passed a day, no matter how busy, without practicing his art by drawing lines,…”).2 The lesson from this passage is that everyone, no matter how talented, has to practise regularly and, to really improve, everybody needs to keep practising on the very basic elements of his/her art.

We have chosen this quote as a title for this editorial, because we wanted a motto to mark a big change in our journal, a single statement that highlights the importance of the job that we as editors and you as journal readers have to do.

What is the big change?

Please, have a look at the front page of the journal (or at the home page of the website, if you are reading EBMH on the internet) and then leaf through the pages of the present issue. You will see that EBMH has a new journal strapline and a new format for the commentaries.

As you probably remember, the previous strapline was ‘EBMH—An international digest for mental health clinicians’. However, as mentioned in one of our previous editorials, we think that the scope of EBMH is to introduce and promote the practices of EBMH, not simply by selecting and disseminating the best evidence, but mainly by helping interested psychiatrists and psychologists learn how to carefully choose and use the best available evidence to answer their own clinical questions thereby materially improving their own clinical practice.3 For this reason, we needed a different strapline: ‘EBMH—Improving clinical practice for psychiatrists and psychologists’. Yes, we agree, a strapline is probably a minor issue. A journal should be evaluated by its scientific content, not by its advertising slogans. Nonetheless, we felt uncomfortable with the continued use of the previous strapline because our job is not to publish a quarterly international digest for mental health clinicians; our job is to provide psychiatrists and psychologists (particularly younger psychiatrists and psychologists!) with a practical tool to practise evidence-based-ly in the context of specific and diverse mental health clinical settings across the world. We changed the strapline because we simply wanted our work to be labelled accurately, to better mirror our aims and expectations.

We have also changed the layout of the commentaries.i We have retained the abstracts which are prepared in-house, but the new commentaries have now a different format, because their main aim is to discuss if and how the study has an impact on evidence-based practice. To make this easier for commentators and readers, we have structured the commentaries into a series of questions and bullet points (as many other scientific journals nowadays do): What is already known on this topic? What does this paper add? Which are the main limitations of the study? What next in research? Could these results change your practice and why? We hope that this familiar format will improve the readability of commentaries and their ability to go straight to the points that are of interest for clinicians and relevant to real world practice. The huge amount of work we and the commentators have done in the past months trying to tailor the commentaries to the new format has been a major task on both sides. There is a lot of work still to be done, but we think we are heading towards the right direction. For example, in a commentary coauthored by two commentators, each author decided to give a different answer to the final question on whether results from the study could change their practice. Both points of view are important because disagreement is vital to increase the scientific knowledge and also because our daily clinical practice is so complex that both answers, even though conflicting, may be true.

What is the job that we are asking our readers to do?

If nulla dies sine linea for the editorial board means that we should work every day to stimulate a critical approach to evidence-based practice, how does the same motto apply to our readership? What is the job that we are asking our readers to do? The answer, of course, is nulla dies sine linea! EBMH readers should keep up with regular (possibly daily?) exercise in EBMH, reading the articles published in the journal and giving us a feedback about their clinical practice and the journal itself (both in terms of content and layout). Twitter and EBMH website will be the main means of communication between the editorial board and the psychiatrists and psychologists who will read the journal. We are happy to announce that EBMH has now a new associate editor, Holly Millward, who will help Michael Ostacher and Kelly Horwood expand the use of social media for our journal to establish a fruitful interaction between the Editorial Board, the study authors, the commentators and the readers. Holly is community lead at Students 4 Best Evidence (an international online community for students interested in evidence-based healthcare and decision-making) and also Programme Support Officer at the UK Cochrane centre. She will advice and provide support in terms of social media strategies and dissemination. Nulla dies sine linea will soon become nulla dies sine Twit.

EBMH is open to submission of unsolicited manuscripts to give the possibility of publishing to anyone who is interested in. In this box, we list the main article types (excluding editorials and commentaries), with a brief description.

Systematic reviews report on the answer to a clinical question with a properly conducted methodology (describing article selection, summarising and synthesising study quality and results, and drawing conclusions for clinicians and researchers, if possible).

Clinical reviews are articles that are aimed at summarising the state of the art about broad (and possibly controversial) topics in mental health and discussing the corresponding clinical implications for secondary care. Clinical reviews should quote relevant scientific literature to stimulate readers to read further on that specific matter.

Original articles report results of original research in the field of evidence-based practice in mental health (eg, providing evidence about a clinically interesting––and possibly usually neglected––issues or implementing evidence-based practices in different settings and countries with different mental health systems).

Perspectives are essays that express a point of view or opinion, about current issues or innovative hypotheses in EBMH.

EBMH now has also two new sections about statistics for mental health professional (ie, for non-statisticians). Statistics in practice focuses on concepts that are basic and central to teaching and practising EBMH (eg, publication bias, fixed and random effects analyses, missing outcome data). These articles are usually commissioned, but we are also happy to peer review and publish unsolicited manuscripts. Statistics in practice papers cover in full details important topics in medical statistics and thus they usually require time and some interest in the readership.

Statistics in pills is one-page, stand-alone section that provides the essential information readers should know about the same topics that are addressed in the ‘Statistics in practice’ paper published on the same issue of the EBMH.

Evidence-based case conference is a very new series of papers which will help clinicians learn and apply the evidence-based approach in their own clinical practices. The case conference will illustrate how to find, critically appraise and apply the best available evidence to a specific clinical presentation (in this series, clinical questions will come from real, completely anonymised cases). We are happy to consider any suggestions about the topics that our readers would like to discuss (if interested, please send an email to the Deputy Editor, Toshi Furukawa at furukawa@kuhp.kyoto-u.ac.jp).

EBMH also welcomes short Letters to the editor. These may be related to a recent commentary or article published in EBMH, or may be letters relevant to EBMH practice, teaching or methodology. Original data may be included if this is relevant and gives added weight to the comment on the previously published article.

References

Footnotes

  • Competing interests None.

  • i In this issue of the journal we are also publishing commentaries in the old format. This is because we have commissioned these articles before we reached the final decision about how to change the commentary's layout.

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