Audiology Communications: A Historical Commentary on Two Journals

Dr. Frank Musiek
October 19, 2021

by Frank Musiek, Ph.D.

As in any discipline, journals play a critical role in disseminating information. Currently there are several journals including The Journal of the American Academy of Audiology (JAAA), Ear & Hearing, The International Journal of Audiology (IJA) and The American Journal of Audiology (AJA) among others that carry the message of audiological and vestibular research to the audiology community.

There are a couple of journals that, historically, did a great deal for audiology that I miss. One was The Journal of Auditory Research (JAR) with J. Donald Harris at the helm and the other was the audiology articles in the Archives of Otolaryngology (later to be called Archives of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery) which were monitored and led by Jim Jerger with Bobby Alford as the Editor. In reflecting on many of the articles I read from these journals I can’t help but be impressed in regard to some of their significant contributions to our field.

The JAR was a timely journal (see March, 2015 Issue of Pathways) and its editor was certainly interested in presenting new and important research to its readership. However, J.D. Harris was also interested in counter arguments to the general flow in which certain research topics were proceeding. In other words, he was not afraid to “buck the tide” so to speak in order to present balanced and interesting points of view. In my view, this made at least some of the articles in JAR very eye opening and with a different slant. This approach were the ingredients for an interesting mixture of articles as well as authors. JAR attracted well known, as well more “junior” authors representing a wide variety of clinical and basic science topics. In fact, on the journal cover it relayed that the it covered topics such as: otology, audiology, musicology, psychoacoustics, speech and communications, neurophysiology of audition, instrumentation for hearing research, and auditory aspects of human engineering.

In entertaining a wide variety of topics for his journal, J.D. Harris composed a broad based, quality editorial board, which I think also contributed to the success of the journal. Early in the journal’s history, the editorial policy board was composed of Norton Canfield, M.D., Ray Carhart, Ph.D., Stacey Guild, Ph.D., Henry Haines, M.D., Fred Kranz, Ph.D., Alvin Liberman, Ph.D., and E. Glen Wever, Ph.D. This editorial board certainly represented expertise in a wide variety of topics and interests in regard to hearing. Though JAR published varied topics in hearing it always seemed to provide a heavy dose of clinical audiology. Scripts ranging from dichotic listening to bone conduction testing to assessment of hearing in handicapped children were likely to be seen in interesting but sometimes delayed issues of JAR. “The electromyogram as an indicator of the hearing response” (1964) by Ken Berger; Dichotic abilities in children, normal adults and aphasic adults for open and closed words (1984) by Bavosi and Rupp; “The relation between vision, head motion, and accuracy of free field auditory localization” (1982) by Shelton, Rodger, and Searle; “Wever and Lawrence revisited: Effects of nulling basilar membrane movement on concomitant whole nerve action potential” (1986) by George Offut.; and “The effect of sectioning auditory centrifugal fibers on the cochlear microphonic and action potential in guinea pigs (1978) by Talbot, Barry and Barry”; are some articles that support my view of JAR’s approaches to a wide variety publications.

The JAR had a good run from 1960 – 1987. I am not sure why the journal ended in 1987 but at about that time, J.D. Harris was asked if he would become editor of a new journal — the American Journal of Audiology which morphed into Ear and Hearing. Ear and Hearing was and is the official journal of American Auditory Society.

The other journal critical to the development of audiology was actually a mainstay of the ear, nose and throat community. The Archives of Otolaryngology was a medical specialist’s journal edited by Bobby Alford who wisely had Jim Jerger heading up the audiology effort for the journal. At a time when diagnostic audiology was king, the combination of a medical journal with a strong audiology thrust was a combination that appealed to many audiological and otologic researchers. Even before Jerger was with the Archives, it appealed to many audiological investigators. For example, in 1957 Ray Carhart’s classic paper on his tone decay test and in 1959 Jerger’s popular paper on the SISI (short increment sensitivity index) were both published in the Archives. After Jim Jerger began guiding the audiology aspect of the Archives it seemed more audiology articles – especially diagnostic articles increased in number and quality. Again for example, critically important articles such as “Clinical experience with impedance audiometry” (1970) by Jerger and “Acoustic tumor detection with brainstem electric response audiometry” by Selters and Brackmann (1977) were published in the Archives. I know that in my graduate program and when I started my career at Dartmouth I was encouraged to publish in the Archives.

The Archives provided an opportunity for some otologists and neuro-otologists interested in audiology to come together with audiology in the same publication. This confluence of disciplines afforded easy access for audiologists to read otological research and vice versa. This cross-discipline activity, I think, helped in the overall increase in knowledge for those audiologists and otologists that read it.

As most of you know in the late 1980s Jim Jerger was the key figure in the development and editorship of the then new Journal of the American Academy of Audiology (JAAA). This was and is the flagship journal of the American Academy of Audiology.

The Journal of Auditory Research and The Archives of Otolaryngology in my opinion, made important and germinal contributions to our field of audiology. These journals provided a breadth of topics and medical perspective that is sometimes lacking in our current journals. I would encourage our readers to occasionally go to the internet and peruse some of the issues of JAR and the Archives. It would be an interesting historical visit and one may actually learn something new!

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