The evolution of Fertility and Sterility

From the Editor
The evolution of Fertility and Sterility



Kurt T. Barnhart, M.D., M.S.C.E.

The inaugural issue of Fertility and Sterility was published in 1950. Since the first issue, many of the astounding changes in the field of reproductive medicine have been chronicled in this journal. The pace of change is often not appreciated until one looks back for perspective. Today marks another small change for Fertility and Sterility as I am honored to serve as the next Editor-in-Chief. I am humbled to walk in the storied footsteps of those before me as well as the evolution of the journal. Drs. Tompkins (1950–1952), Davis (1953–1969), Mastroianni Jr. (1970–1975), and Kempers (1976–1997) laid a foundation of quality and merit as they paved the way for success. Dr. DeCherney (1997–2011) has left an indelible impact with his vision. More recently, the Co-Editors-in-Chief Drs. Niederberger and Pellicer (2011–2021) have expertly taken the journal to the excellence of today.
Here is some perspective. In the past 20 years, the number of submissions has risen from just over 1,000 per year to approaching 3,000 per year. Fertility and Sterility received as few as 71 submissions per month in 2002 and now has received as many as 269 a month in 2020. There have been a total of 29,324 reviews completed between January 1, 2010, and December 31, 2020. The impact factor has risen from 3.77 to an outstanding 6.31. Can you remember Fertility and Sterility without the exceptional and thought-provoking Views and Reviews section? Do you recall when you had to go looking for helpful publications from ASRM? There was a time when letters to the editor and correspondence with investigators were in print, rather than online. Today, “readers” of Fertility and Sterility enjoy wide dissemination of scientific findings not only through original manuscripts but through the Dialog ( and social media. We now share Tweetorials and visual abstracts on social media and interact with each other across the globe with live Journal Club Global events. We now measure “reads,” “visits,” and “downloads” as much as citations. Fertility and Sterility has become more than a journal and has risen to a respected brand that is part of a family of journals, including our sister titles, F&S Reports, F&S Science, and F&S Reviews, allowing us to expand our reach and publish more great work in our field.
As a new Editor-in-Chief, I have already been asked how one decides what gets published in this age of competitive scientific publication, what will Fertility and Sterility be looking for, how will the journal change? I was even asked if choosing which articles will be published is analogous to choosing a meal? You may have heard that when choosing a meal, you have to make sacrifices and can only have two of three attributes. If your meal is fast and cheap, it will not be good. If your meal is good and fast, it will not be cheap. If your meal is good and cheap, it will not be fast.
For scientific publication, I believe that the three most important attributes are scientific integrity, novelty, and relevance. Of course, these attributes are often balanced to some degree. For example, often a truly novel finding will be of interest even with less sophisticated methodology. Conversely, a perfectly performed study, with a complex design, but little relevance is of less interest. Unlike choosing a meal, Fertility and Sterility will be looking for all three attributes.
The fundamental underpinning of an outstanding manuscript is good science. There are many study questions and research designs. However, the approach to study design, hypothesis testing, and the presentation of results should be universal. The methodology should be clear, and the presentation should be objective. Scientific integrity is integral and will not be compromised. The novelty and rapid advancement in reproductive medicine have been astonishing, and I expect it will continue to be so. One can only speculate and wonder what will be next. The content of Fertility and Sterility is relevant to those who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders (including but not restricted to reproductive endocrinology, urology, andrology, physiology, immunology, genetics, contraception, and menopause). I sincerely believe the scope of reproductive medicine is broad. Reproduction affects health and health affects reproduction.
For all that has changed, one aspect of the journal has remained unchanged. Fertility and Sterility is a premier journal in the area of reproductive health. My goal as the new Editor-in-Chief is to help usher the journal forward with the maintenance of its quality. I will strive for continuous improvement with change for the better, not change for the sake of change. I am looking for nimble and innovative ways to disseminate research findings and promote the talented investigators who chose to publish in Fertility and Sterility. There are many ways to increase impact. I also aspire to enhance the value for readers with a strong partnership with ASRM, an enhanced global reach, and novel ways to consume the content of the flagship of the F&S family of journals.
I look forward to leading an outstanding editorial team and staff that will review and publish the best of the exceptional science in reproductive medicine. Fertility and Sterility will continue to evolve and present well-conducted, novel, and relevant research. This content will move our field forward, challenge our way of thinking, and bring us into the future. You may not perceive the change without some perspective. Fertility and Sterility will not help you with your choice of meals.

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