A new era for our academic journal

Our Treasurer, Dr Liz Marder outlines the changes in how members will now receive Archives of Disease in Childhood and what this means for the College's commitment to sustainability.
Dr Liz Marder
Dr Liz Marder with a copy of ADC

This week we announce the 2022 annual subscription rates for members. The new rates are not only influenced by a small (1%) inflationary rise, but also by significant changes in how we provide access to our academic journal, Archives of Disease in Childhood (ADC), from 1 January 2022. The headline news is that we will be extending access to the journal as a benefit of membership, so that all RCPCH members regardless of category will now have access to ADC online.

For me this change is particularly exciting as it brings together our responsibilities as a College to advance the art and science of paediatrics through research and education, with my own areas of responsibility around financial sustainability and providing value for our members. However, of particular importance for me as Chair of our Climate Change Working Group is the environmental benefit.

It currently takes over 55,000 mature trees per year to absorb the carbon produced in making ADC for all 14,000 paper subscribers

Our College commitment to tackling climate change is real. It started with a member-led motion to the AGM in 2020; then in October 2020, we joined others in declaring a climate emergency. We have started our three-year Climate Change programme which is a key priority in our 2021-2024 strategy with dedicated staff and budget in place and involving over 80 of our members. We have recently published a comprehensive new position statement on the impact of climate change on global child health, which sets out the reality of why we need to do our bit as a College on environmental sustainability. We will roll out our resulting climate change programme in earnest throughout 2021-2024.   

This change to the way you receive Archives of Disease in Childhood is the first of many changes we will be making to reduce our carbon footprint as an organisation. We’ve already done an estimation that, on average, it currently takes over 55,000 mature trees per year to absorb the carbon produced in making ADC for all 14,000 paper subscribers. That’s roughly four trees per subscriber.

Beyond the environmental benefits, our new strategy places a strong emphasis on harnessing knowledge, data and intelligence to improve the quality of care for children and young people. Extending access to Archives of Disease in Childhood online to the journal as a benefit of membership, for all RCPCH members, supports this strategy. This means over 5,000 of you, including many aspiring paediatricians and Level 1 trainees, will now have access to the most popular benefit of membership at no extra cost.

Every member will receive online access to the journal as default

For those of you who already have access to the journal (either as part of your membership or as an additional subscription), you will see savings in your pocket as well as saving trees. The change to online access has allowed us to reduce your subscription fees from 2022 onwards. Every member will receive online access to the journal as default. We do recognise that some of you will prefer to continue to receive monthly hard copies but are now asking that you actively choose to do so rather than having the choice made for you. If you wish to receive hard copies you can elect to do so for an additional fee of £35 per year.  

You can find out about what this means for your membership in detail by reading our FAQs on moving to default online access.  

This exciting development is possible because we have agreed a revised contract with our partners and co-owners, the British Medical Journal. This has been no small achievement and I would like to take this opportunity to recognise the role played in this process of David Howley, our Director of Corporate Services. David is leaving the College in December for pastures new. He has made a huge contribution to the College in his nearly 11 years with us, but I think he will be particularly gratified to have completed this piece of work before he goes. He will be missed enormously, particularly by me, as he has offered me great support in my role as Treasurer. We wish him every success in his new role.

If you have not accessed the journal content online before, I would encourage you to spend some time checking you can log in via RCPCH (using your RCPCH credentials) and find the content that you most often read in the print copies. The College’s Member Services team and BMJ support are on hand to help you if you have any queries or would like any support, so please do not hesitate to get in touch (there are more details on our ADC page).

The College’s Executive Committee has also recommended a 1% increase on all subscription fees for 2022. This is a modest increase, in line with inflation and for many of you will be offset by the changes in the fees relating to ADC. We do need resource to be able to deliver our ambitious new three-year strategy, which I hope you’ve had a chance to read.  

We recognise that the new arrangements represent a significant change for the College. We are confident in the significant benefits for members, for the environment, for paediatric education and research, and ultimately for the well-being of our children and young people.