Article Details

AAP Bulletin Summer 2017

Early Career Psychiatrist’s Thoughts

Pankaj Lamba, MD, 8/9/2017

In our last communication committee meeting, Marika requested for a volunteer for an early career column for the upcoming AAP bulletin. As an early career psychiatrist on the committee, I almost felt obligated initially with gradual transition to viewing this as a valuable opportunity. Luckily, I have ample time for self-reflection during my couple of hours of drive to work each day. It’s mostly freeway driving, with light traffic, passing through the scenic Appalachian Mountains, so no complaints!

In ‘The Alchemist’ Paulo Coelho wrote ‘‘To realize one's destiny is a person's only real obligation and when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it,’’ and I can relate to it.  In 2014, I attended my first AAP meeting and it all started in a mysterious fashion. I was appointed as chief-resident and as an incentive received GME allowance to attend a conference for developing leadership role. I rightly choose AAP. Mentorship received at the meeting helped me to accept a University job in lieu of other opportunities. Moving ahead, this year was my first taste of promotion and tenure (P&T) report and I know it is going to be a living document in University job. With this comes the obligation to be part of committee and provide service to the community, by being reviewer for, at least, a journal. Again, I received an unsolicited invitation for becoming a reviewer for an open access journal.  Oh, well!  I thought, the Universe is indeed helping me on the path to academia (my destiny).

Serendipitously, I saw an article, ‘Predatory publishers are corrupting open access,’ in Nature 2012, DOI: 10.1038/489179a,  and the initial enthusiasm started to wane.  Then it dawned on me that in The Alchemist, Santiago also receives the following advice,What you still need to know is this: before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream.”

Before starting my career in psychiatry, I had spent a decade in basic-science research learning about publishing and reviewing. It was clear that I was being urged to master the lesson. Further, exploring the open access journals and publishers, I learned about the debate on its implication for the scientific community. Given that this is not a forum to express my views, I would encourage the readers to the following website to learn more on the topic:

Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association,

How Do You Know A Journal Is Legitimate?

In summary, I believe this was a truly remarkable opportunity to reflect on my journey, finding a deeper meaning as well as connection both with AAP community and the Soul of the World, as described in the book that I never get tired of reading.

AAP Bulletin – Summer 17, Page 4 of 7