Memorias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz was officially created by federal decree 1.802, on December 12, 1907 (click here for the Portuguese version of this decree). Memorias effectively started its life as scientific publishing journal only two years later. This start could not have been better: in the second issue of the journal (August 1909), Dr. Carlos Chagas reported the discovery of a new human trypanosomiasis, including both its infectious agent (the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi) and the vector (the triatomine bugs). This trypanosomiasis is currently known as Chagas Disease. Because of the breath and impact of this discovery to tropical medicine in the 20th century, he should have been recognized with a Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology. For reasons we will probably never know, the prize was not awarded to Dr. Carlos Chagas.
The journal has experienced many changes since its first issue in April 1909. From starting as a typical institutional journal, one dedicated to publishing the scientific work of researchers from the Oswaldo Cruz Institute exclusively, Memorias went on to become one of the most prestigious journals in the fields of tropical medicine and parasitology in the 21st century.
Our journal has been able to survive all the transformations of the scientific publishing landscape in last century. The challenge ahead is no less daunting. It is the core mission of this journal to keep serving the human infectious disease research community in an environment with an overwhelming dissemination of information. In the meantime, several questions pop up on our dashboard. What role should be assigned to editors? Do we need them? Should all the information be open immediately? Should peer review be performed by a few individual researchers, massive numbers of decentralized reviewers, or reviewing committees? What about the costs of these initiatives? In a world of open and immediate publishing repositories, do we really need journals in the current format?
Certainly, the Memorias editors do not have conclusive answers to these questions, but at least a history of 110 years of science publishing may help us navigate through this environment of uncertainty and its many potential innovations. New terms abound: preprints, collaborative peer reviews, and living articles, to cite the most relevant ones. They reveal a new world where authors retake full control of how to publish, what to publish, and even what editing will be needed. Memorias, like most current journals, is under pressure to respond to these challenges. If journals wish to remain relevant for science dissemination in the near future, they must properly address these questions. We do, and hope our authors think so.
Happy 110 years Memorias do IOC!