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History

General physiology is the study of biological mechanisms through analytical investigations, which decipher the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying biological function at all levels of organization.

The mission of Journal of General Physiology (JGP) is to publish mechanistic and quantitative molecular and cellular physiology of the highest quality, to provide a best-in-class author experience, and to nurture future generations of independent researchers. The major emphasis is on physiological problems at the cellular and molecular level.

A brief editorial history

JGP commenced publication in 1918; it was founded by Jacques Loeb, who at the time was a member of The Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research. The beginning of the journal was commensurate with an expansion of the Institute’s more clinically oriented medical research to also encompass biomedical research. Along with Dr. Loeb, editing duties were shared by Professor Winthrop Osterhout of Harvard University. The initial rationale for the journal was stated in this extract from the 1918 announcement of publication:

Under the pressure of demands of medicine and other professions, physiology has developed in the direction of an applied science, with limited opportunity for the investigation of purely theoretical problems. On the other hand, the physico-chemical methods of analyzing life phenomena have thus far made little inroad into the domain of zoology and botany. Under these circumstances, it has happened that what might be regarded as the most fundamental of all the biological sciences, namely general physiology, has not come to have a journal of its own. It is this condition which the establishment of The Journal of General Physiology is intended to correct.

A key feature of the journal’s editorial practice consists of the weekly editors' meetings. JGP’s editors share the view that the goal of the review process is to identify submissions that contain mechanistic insight and to ensure that before acceptance such work is as free from error and clear in presentation as possible (Pugh and Andersen, 2008). To this end, the associate editors meet weekly to select reviewers of established competence in the scientific subfield of each submitted manuscript, "review the reviews" that have arrived to ensure fairness and completeness, and discuss the merits of each manuscript, consulting with the journal’s Editorial Advisory Board in case of doubt about an editorial decision (Andersen, 2007). These practices keep continuity with the editorial history of JGP and are aimed at encouraging and promoting the best of general physiology. Thoughtful, thorough peer review is the heart and soul of the journal (Pugh, 2009).

(For an illuminating historical view of the journal’s editors, articles, and scientific impact, please see A Brief History of The Journal of General Physiology by Olaf S. Andersen).

Online and print access

With the rapidly evolving advances in digital publishing and internet access, capacity, and speed since the mid-90s, JGP has been striving to increase accessibility of the journal, enhance user-friendly functionality, and expand the scope of publication.

In 1997 we began publishing the full-text interactive HTML version online. The complete archive of the journal is freely available from six months after publication back to our first 1918 issue. As part of Rockefeller University Press’ (RUP's) commitment to public access, our complete archive is also available on PubMed Central, with complete issues forwarded by RUP six months after publication. In addition, authors are free to post the final, published PDF file of their articles on their own websites. In May of 2008, a new copyright policy was instituted that allows authors to retain copyright to their own work; in addition, the content of JGP was opened up to use by third parties under a Creative Commons license.

Adapted from the Wikipedia entry for Journal of General Physiology

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