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30 years of methods
Nathan S. Blow, Ph.D.
Editor-in-Chief, BioTechniques
BioTechniques, Vol. 54, No. 1, January 2013, p. 13
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Thinking back over my scientific career, BioTechniques has always been there. When I was an undergraduate at the University of Vermont doing population genetics research, I can fondly remember late nights spent reading the journal while I waited for my gels to run. Then, moving on to work in another lab prior to graduate school, I recall looking at issues with labmates the moment they arrived and betting on which technique would be featured that month. BioTechniques was also the first journal I ever subscribed to (of course it was a huge help that it was free). And after completing my degree and a fellowship, BioTechniques was the first place I worked as an editor.

Many of you might also have stories about this journal. Several friends of mine published their first articles in these pages, and many more have methods and techniques from the journal clipped into their lab notebooks for regular use. If you really stop to think about it, BioTechniques has been there for an amazing number of young researchers as they start their careers. How many journals can say that? Although, I might have drifted to different journals throughout my years in the lab (from population genetics-oriented publications to infectious diseases journals), a few publications stayed on my reading list — BioTechniques being one. And while some might just chalk this up to the fact that BioTechniques provides general methods and protocols directed at improving experiments at the bench, I would argue that there is more to the impact of this journal. For many researchers, BioTechniques represents a first exposure to reading and writing scientific articles. When you begin graduate school, everything is new and learning your field takes time. But most everyone starts working in a lab during that first year — using different techniques and methods to get some initial data. Here is where BioTechniques fills an important need in the scientific community — helping young researchers gain access to new methods and techniques, introducing future leaders of science to how research works. This is what makes BioTechniques special, and this is what has kept this magazine growing for the past 30 years.

In 2013, BioTechniques will mark its 30th year influencing the way science is conducted in labs around the globe. While the journal has changed over the years, as has the way in which readers receive their issues (e.g., digital versions on iPads and smartphones), the heart and soul remains the same — speaking to researchers at the bench and assisting everyone in becoming better scientists.

With this in mind, I'm pleased to announce that during the coming year we will have a number of special 30th anniversary events. From celebrations at major conferences to special focus sections exploring the methods that this journal helped advance (PCR methodologies in the 1990s for example), our goal is to honor all of the exceptional effort put in by the journal's founders, staff, supporters, authors, and readers over the past three decades.

I would be remiss if I did not mention one of the most amazing aspect of BioTechniques — the journal remains free to subscribers. Despite a difficult economy and challenges in the publishing world, BioTechniques continues to be free to all scientists, both in print and online. The advertiser-supported model upon which the journal was founded is simple, but has stood the test of time. And while open-access might be all the rage at the moment, I think it is important to acknowledge that BioTechniques represents one of the first truly open-access journals; a journal where neither authors nor subscribers pay. It is through the efforts of our advertisers that we have been able to bring science to the masses these past three decades, and for this we should all be thankful.

Finally, I would also like take this opportunity to thank the wide range of scientists who have given their time over the past 30 years to serve as reviewers for our manuscripts. This service is critical to the publication of rigorous and informative methods articles, and for many, the feedback provided through peer-review leads to both a substantially improved manuscript as well as an education in how to become a better scientist.

I'm looking forward to this coming year and our celebration. I ask that you do us one favor though for our birthday, please send your favorite memories of BioTechniques, or maybe a note on one of your favorite methods from the pages of BioTechniques, to [email protected]. We will highlight some of your memories and comments during the coming year.