The Historical Evolution of Tzu Chi Medical Journal
The Tzu Chi Medical Journal (TCMJ), a professional journal first published by the Tzu Chi Medical Research Department, was founded on May 1st, 1989 as a quarterly with publication dates targeted for March, June, October, and December. Vice CEO Kuo Hann-Chorng of Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Foundation had assumed the role of editor-in-chief ever since the founding of TCMJ. The quarterly was originally named “Tzu Chi Medicine”, published in letter-size format. The name was later altered to “Tzu Chi Medical Journal”, and was resized to comply with the regulations of international medical journals. For a period of time, a vertically printed calligraphic Mandarin title was used on the cover page, written by renowned calligrapher Wang Being-Yue under the request of Dharma Master Cheng Yen.
TCMJ was initially under the Tzu Chi Medical Research Department (located on the 11th floor of Gratitude Building, Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital). Now, the publishing company is Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation. Master Cheng Yen is the honorary publisher. It was the collaborative effort of former assistant editors Huang Mei-Hui, Li Li-Mei, Yang Shu-Hui, Tsao Ning-Chiu, Wu Chia-Yen, Liu Hsing-Tzu, Lin Mei-Fen, Feng Hui-Chiung, and Chang Hui-Min, and former section editors Lai Ming-Liang, Hsu Yung-Hsiang, Lee Ming-Che, Chiu Ted. H, Chen Ching-Feng and etc. that build the foundation of this journal. Print circulation has dropped since the emergence of internet from 1,500 ~ 2,000 to 1,100, and further decline is to be expected. As the journal progresses towards its paperless goal, only 200 paper copies printed for display in libraries and other relevant institutes.
The birth of TCMJ can be attributed to the foresight of Kuo Hann-Chorng. The purpose of this journal has always been to provide a forum for physicians of the Tzu Chi hospitals to publish their research findings, to demonstrate their mindfulness, and to elevate overall medical standard of the Tzu Chi hospitals and the Tzu Chi Medical College (now Tzu Chi University, TCU) through the exchange of knowledge and education.
“Back in the 80’s, an annual review was held by the National Science Council (NSC) on published journals. We had been striving for a superb ranking. Not only would it be beneficial in the accreditation of our hospital, articles published by our doctors would also be recognized as effective. The project was later scrapped when the NSC abolished the review. Now we abide by the regulations of the Joint Commission of Taiwan (JCT),” Kuo Hann-Chorng continued. “A year after our publication, we changed the quarterly to a bimonthly to increase the quality and quantity of the journal. The plan did not go well. We did not have sufficient supply of articles, and on top of that, a bimonthly did not meet the search criteria of PubMed (a free full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature at the U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine). On the third year, we reverted back to a quarterly publication."
In the beginning TCMJ accepted both English and Mandarin submissions. It was required that all Mandarin submissions to have English abstracts, and English submissions to have Mandarin abstracts. The quarterly was later revamped into a full English journal in an effort to become a full-fledged international journal, and we accepted only English submissions (with Mandarin abstracts).
In the early days, Kuo Hann-Chorng would take advantage of the small window of time in his travel between NTHU (National Taiwan University Hospital) located in Taipei City and Hualien and visit a printing company behind NTHU named Hui Wen for proofreading, typing, and printing. Each week he had to spend two hours on the journal-related affairs. Around the year 1989, prior to the invention of modern computer printing technology, there were a lot of cutting-and-pasting and photoengraving. Proofreading was therefore a crucial procedure. After the draft was thoroughly proofread and reprinted, Kuo Hann-Chorng would have to proofread it again before mass printing.
TCMJ later collaborated with Kuang-Wen-She, a printing company in Hualien City, in which he delivers completed drafts and desired format to the company, and the company was in charge of typesetting. The collaboration changed again to Hung-Yu-Hang, a printing company in Taipei. In 2007, TCMJ, for the first time, entrusted its publishing affairs to one of the world leading publishers, Elsevier, who would be responsible for typesetting, plate making and English grammar correction.
Kuo Hann-Chorng pointed out, "Elsevier is a major international publisher who works with top international journals. When we first applied to the National Library of Medicine (NLM) for the indexation in PubMed, we did not have the assistance from a publisher, only a printing company. The Tzu Chi Foundation remained as the publisher of the journal. Of course, we were rejected. It was then did we change our strategy and seek professional assistance. Once we heard that the Journal of the Formosan Medical Association (JFMA) was working with Elsevier, we approached them. Elsevier agreed to work with us under strict conditions such as compliance with international standard. We worked together for many years."
In this collaboration, the TCMJ editorial team would deliver manuscripts that have been reviewed and accepted to Elsevier, and Elsevier would proceed with the follow-up. When manuscripts are typeset for print, a proof is sent to its corresponding author and an assistant editor to be proofread. After that, the publisher would post these manuscripts online and made them available for the readers. Once the editor-in-chief has edited the content for an issue, Elsevier would convert them into page proofs and sent it to assistant editors for proofreading. Once the draft is finalized, the editor-in-chief would review it once more before sending it to Elsevier for publication.
As Elsevier restructured its business direction, TCMJ did not renew the partnership with Elsevier when the contract expired in the end of 2016. For the subsequent 12 issues from 2017 to 2019, TCMJ will work with Flysheet Med-Informatics, and utilize the platform of Medknow Publications under Wolters Kluwer for publication, promotion and advertisement of electronic journal. Articles provided by the editorial team of TCMJ, which are reviewed by the editor-in-chief and the editorial team, are to be delivered to Flysheet Med-Informatics for formatting, English editing, layout, labelling, and other prerequisites for open access journals, including applications of article DOI, assessments and applications of international search database, and communication and assistance of the agreement matter included in the publishing agreement with Wolters Kluwer (India) Pvt. Ltd.
Flysheet Med-Informatics is also responsible in assisting the operation of the submission and review system, building of journal website that handles online submission, manuscript review, editorial work flow for publication, and communication with Medknow in the promotion of the journal, which also includes the delivery of eTOC, regular mail promotion, and promotion in major global book fair.
A Cradle of Medical Professional
Although there were plenty of journals home and abroad that would provide a medium for our doctors to publish their work, however, it was tough for papers written by young doctors to rise above the fierce competition of academic papers to squeeze into the prestigious ones, Kuo Hann-Chorng said. In light of this, a thought that facilitated the founding of TCMJ was conceived.
Kuo Hann-Chorng believes that a journal published by the hospital that allows the doctors to publish their research findings on regular basis could provide writing practices for the doctors, and a second chance for rejected papers to be published after further review and editing. “Every finding deserves to be published, just as every research merit attention,” Kuo Hann-Chorng said. Based on this ideology, he invited several senior doctors in the hospital to support the project, and together they founded a journal that is to be a the essence of the collective endeavor of the Tzu Chi doctors.
Prior to the founding of TCMJ, Kuo Hann-Chorng visited Master Cheng Yen in the Jing Si Abode to fully express his resolve to publish this medical journal, and that he was there to sought for aid. Master Cheng Yen, upon hearing the plea, granted him full support in the publication of the journal.
Back in the 80’s, to chance of finding a hospital, among the major hospitals in Taiwan, that is both capable and courageous enough to publish a journal that is consisted solely of medical papers was remarkable low. The Tzu Chi Hospital was one of the rare that had the dauntlessness went on to publish a journal when the hospital itself was understaffed.
The Transformation of Scientific Medical Journal
During the first two years of TCMJ’s publication, the content of the journal revolved primarily around educational articles, with rare appearances of original works and case reports. Under the resolute effort of the editor in chief and the rest of the editorial team at the time, they managed to publish few review articles and original articles in each issue. Started in 1991, the journal underwent a transformation. The primary content of the journal had shifted away from review articles and educational papers and towards original works and case reports.
The restructuring continued until the Dec. issue of 1992, where the entire content was replaced with original works and case reports. The reason behind it was simple. In a professional scientific journal, original works and case reports must exceed eight in total, and without any educational papers. It was then the TCMJ completed its metamorphosis and became a full-fledged scientific journal. The editorial directions took a 180 degree turn.
A year after its transformation, TCMJ received an accreditation of “Scientific Medical Journal” by the NSC in 1993, and was ranked as Taiwan's top twenty scientific journals among hundreds of competitors. The achievement was inspirational. Now, our journal has become a recognized journal by major national medical institutions in faculty promotion. Submissions from these institutions have become substantial.
Submissions were scarce during the first year of publication, with a rapid increase in the second year and a 20% rejection rate. By looking at the statistics of 2015 alone, a total of 76 submissions, 2 invitations, and 33 rejections, which led to a total of 44.5% rejection rate. Submissions came from home and abroad, with medical personnel from various departments as authors. The quality of these submissions was outstanding among other periodicals of similar nature.
Chang Hui-Min, a senior staff of TCMJ, pointed out that in the early days publications in the TCMJ can be counted towards faculty promotion in NTUH. In 2012, TCMJ applied to the JCT for the accreditation of valid journal in hospital accreditation, and was subsequently approved. The application in 2017 was again approved on the first attempt.
The staff of the Tzu Chi Hospitals were not complacent over this achievement. They remain dedicated in the continual production of quality papers, with the hope that TCMJ could one day be a proud representation of the Tzu Chi Hospitals and the Tzu Chi University Medical School, and be a professional scientific journal recognized in the medical field worldwide.
Strict Review in a Three-Person Company
Chang Hui-Min took over the position of assistant editor in 1998 after the resignation of her former colleague. “Editor-in-Chief Kuo always said that TCMJ is a three-person company, referring to Master Cheng Yen, Vice CEO Kuo, and I. It was exhausting. The journal has changed the cover page five times. If the journal is indexed by PubMed in the future, the journal may change its cover once more to accommodate the newfound visibility."
“One must be a fool to be an editor of a magazine!” Kuo Hann-Chorng once said. "Master Cheng Yen has always been concerned whether our journal has been publishing regularly, and with solid content. My original thought was to have a fixed cover design, using an image of a Buddhist relic, an instrument or a statue, on the cover of each issue. There are plenty of candidates in the abode available for us to use, a few thousand images should not be a problem. When Master heard about the image selection of cover page, she said a painter has already been working on something that matched my description. As I watched Master swiped the screen of her tablet browsing through the images of the painter’s work, I noticed that she repeatedly swiped passed the image “Mother Earth”. Sometimes Master expresses her thoughts through subtle hints instead of direct orders. After listening to the backstory of that specific piece, I decided to use that painting in our cover page, and again on the back cover with illustrations."
Since number of published articles is one of the criteria in hospital accreditation, submission the year before the accreditation would increase drastically. Despite their best effort, our colleagues in the hospital may not have the opportunity to be published on SCI journals despite their hard work. This is when TCMJ becomes a perfect medium for publication. Prior to a hospital accreditation few years ago, Chang Hui-Min remembered, the number of published articles did not meet the accreditation standard, and the department published three journals and four special editions in half a year in order to satisfy the requirement.
According to the standard layout of international scientific medical journal, the content of TCMJ is categorized as follow, in descending order: Review article, original article (fundamental and clinical), and case report. We also actively encourage short essays, and designed sections like pathology page, images in clinical medicine, and medical ethics that have educational values. Review articles and original articles, which occupy a unparalleled importance in our journal, are received by either submission or invitation. Review articles are often written by accomplished specialists, or in some cases, by students after a thorough research in related fields.
“An article has to go through a preliminary review by me, then peer-review, then to a section editor. I would provide a list of review board members in the same field as the article as reference for the section editor to pick from. These lists come from the research personnel database of NSC. If a section editor believes that there is a candidate outside of the list who is more suitable to review the manuscript, I would deliver the manuscript according to his list to confirm that the content is accurate. In other words, a manuscript of certain discipline would be reviewed by a corresponding section editor of that discipline,” Chang Hui-Min explained.
“The truth is, review process of each manuscript is unique. In the case of an invited article, the article is sent to the editor-in-chief first before the reviewing process is initiated. If the editor-in-chief reviews the article and gives a go ahead, it goes directly to English review, while the original is sent to a section editor. If the section editor believes the article deserves a review, he or she would send me two candidates from a list of the review board members. If the article is rejected by the first reviewer, the section editor may select a third review board member and have the article reviewed again. Or, if the section editor is fully convinced by the feedback of the first reviewer, the article is rejected immediately without a third reviewer."
“The number of reviewers for review articles may vary article by article. As for case report, there are two review committee members in charge. Essays under pathology page, images in clinical medicine, and medical ethics are reviewed by one reviewer only. The editor-in-chief reviews all submitted articles. At each stage of the reviewing process, a copy of an article is sent to the editor-in-chief as well."
In the 19 years as assistant editor, Chang Hui-Min enjoyed her work thoroughly, despite having other tasks to attend to. “It is extremely painful when a deadline is approaching and I have no article to publish, and so is sending reminder letters. If I do not receive a reply after sending two emails, I make a phone call. So every time I come across doctors who have been assisting us in reviewing articles or accepting to our invitations, they would ask jokingly: ‘Do I owe you an article? Does the journal need an article?’ Going after doctors from our own hospital is fine, but going after those from different hospitals is a different story,” she laughed.
The reviewing process of the TCMJ can be roughly divided into the following:
1. Indexing manuscripts.
2. Preliminary review: format review by the editorial
a. Submissions that do not conform to the requirements are highlighted and returned to the author for corrections or alterations before reviewing.
b. Submissions that conform to the requirements are sent for further review.
c. The author is asked to sign a copyright transfer agreement (CTA) and conflict of interest statement (CIS).
A notification is sent to the author of a manuscript when the manuscript has been accepted for further review.
3. Manuscript Review: The editorial team sends the manuscripts to a section editor for preliminary review, who then designates two expert reviewers to review the manuscript. A copy of the manuscript is sent to the chief editor for review.
a. Expert Review: a manuscript review by a national expert.
b. Editorial Review: a manuscript review of format and content by a section editor.
Manuscripts that are found suitable for publication in TCMJ are sent to two or more expert reviewers. During submission, the contributor is requested to provide names of two or three qualified reviewers who have had experience in the subject of the submitted manuscript, but this is not mandatory.
4. Corrections or Alterations
a. The author is requested to revise the manuscript according to comments of two expert reviewers and a section editor.
b. When submitting a revised manuscript, the author should attach a point by point response to reviewers’ comments.
5. Secondary Review
a. The author submits a revised manuscript to the editorial team.
b. The editorial team sends the revised manuscript to a section editor, who decides on whether the manuscript is sent to expert reviewers and the chief editor for secondary review.
c. If a section editor decided that a manuscript should be sent to expert reviewers, the editorial team would take the reviewers’ comment, send it to the section editor, who then decides if the manuscript is to be published or sent back to the author for further correction. The manuscript is also sent to the editor-in-chief for review.
d. A section editor makes a final review and decides whether to publish a manuscript.
e. The editor-in-chief decides whether to publish a manuscript or not.
Before entering the next stage of the review process, the decision of the review is sent to the author.
6. English Review: manuscript is copy edited by the international editorial of Taiwan C&E Management Co., Ltd.
a.The author is requested to make final corrections or alterations according to the reviewed manuscript by the international editorial of Taiwan C&E Management Co., Ltd., and submit the revised manuscript to the editorial team, and
b. Final revision by the editorial team on format and content
c. The manuscript is sent to the publisher for typesetting.
8. Editorial Meeting
a. The chief editor decides which articles to publish and conduct a final review of content and format.
b. Apply for English and manuscript review fee.
9. Printing and Proofreading:
a. Typeset galley proofs are sent to the author and the editorial team for proofreading.
b. Page proofs for the current issue are sent to the editorial and the editor-in-chief for proofreading.
10. A published issue is sent to the author.
Local Orientation of TCMJ
A point worthy of mentioning is the local orientation of TCMJ, in particular the reports and researches on diseases exclusive to Hualien and Taitung County, or emphasis on the current medical status of eastern Taiwan. It is, therefore, only natural to see in the journal a prevalence of disease statistics and articles on general and specific diseases in eastern Taiwan.
As Kuo Hann-Chorng pointed out, in the 1989 Aug. issue (vol. 1, issue 3) of TCMJ, Dr. Tsai Jui-Chang conducted a detail analysis on the neurosurgical patients of the Tzu Chi General Hospital. In the same issue, Dr. Kuo Huang-Tsung reported an inquiry on educational institutes of multiple disabilities. The attention the journal received following the publication of these two articles was an inspirational achievement of two outstanding individuals, and placed medical researches that focus on social aspects under spotlight.
In the 1991 March issue (vol. 3, issue 1), Kuo Hann-Chorng mentioned, was a research by Chang You-Kuo, Director of Gynecology and Obstetrics, on syphilis in pregnant women. The article reported that, in 1120 pregnant women who received prenatal serological screening at Buddhist Tzu Chi Hospital, 9 (8%) cases of gestational syphilis were detected. The high rate of syphilis is a social phenomenon exclusive to Hualien, an occurrence that warrants further attention. Ophthalmologist Chen Tao-Ming from Yuli Township, Hualien County, performed two comparative value surveys on vision of Tao tribespeople in Lan-Yu, and the result revealed that, in a modern society, children living on a secluded off-shore island were still faced with deteriorating eyesight.
There are plenty of articles that focused on prevalent diseases in Hualien in subsequent issues. For example, "Diverticulosis in Hualien” by Dr. Cheng Kui-Lin (TCMJ 1991; 3), "Knowledge and Habit of Drug Usage in Hualien Patients” by Pharmacist Chen Fang-Fei (TCMJ 1991; 9), a preliminary report on the demographic background of Inpatients in Buddhist Tzu Chi general hospital by Dir. Lin Hsien-Hong (TCMJ 1991; 9).
In March 1992, Dr. Huang Lu-Chin, Dr. Lin Hsien-Hong, and Dr. Shieh Ming-Jium presented a report on the infections of hepatitis B in elementary school children in Hualien County across 5 townships, and Dr. Lin Hsien-Hong also presented a report on the infections hepatitis B in a high school in Hualien County (TCMJ 1992; 3). As for the infection of hepatitis B in eastern Taiwan, Dr. Lin Hsien-Hong submitted a detailed report in the 1992 June issue.
The 1992 Dec. issue included an outstanding article by Dr. Kuo Huang-Tsung, “Tuberculosis and Public Health Status of Taiwan Aboriginals in Hsiu-Lin Village, Hualien”, in which he reported a undiminished prevalence of tuberculosis among an entire aboriginal village. The article could serve as a reference for scholars in sociology and epidemiology.
In the 1993 volume 5, Pulmonologist Lee Jen-Jyh published his research, "Microbiological Analyses of Empyema Thoracis in Eastern Taiwan”. In the same issue was an article by Dr. Lai Chia-Yu on self-discharge of inpatients in Buddhist Tzu Chi general hospital, and the reasons for the self-discharge, in descending order based on the patients’ own account, were dying at home, emotional issues, referral to other hospitals in Hualien, care issues, referral to other hospitals in Taipei, and refusing treatment. As for epidemiological studies of Hualien region, family physician Li Yin-Ming collaborated with Hualien County Health Bureau on “Motor Vehicle-Related Mortality in Hualien County”. Since Hualian County has the highest rate of motor vehicle mortality worldwide, this article warrants attention from relevant government agencies.
In 1994 volume 6, Prof. Peng Tai-Chu of Tzu Chi College of Nursing (former Tzu Chi University of Technology) conducted a report, “Trends of Cumulative Mortality Rate and Years of Potential Life Lost on Accidents in HuaLien (1971-1991)”, in which she detailed a substantial productivity loss caused by accidental deaths of local inhabitants. The prevention of these accidental deaths could lead to an additional productivity of 4 billion TWD. In the same issue was on article by the chief editor Kuo Hann-Chorng, who is also the director of urology, Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital, published his study on urinary function of females in Hualien with the urinary tract examination results of average women.
In the 1995 volume 7, internist Yau Jieh-Her conducted a statistical analysis on liver abscess in Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital over a 7-year period. The result indicated that there was no significance among the clinical manifestation of pathogenic bacteria of liver abscess at Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital, western, and northern Taiwan. In the same issue, chief editor Kuo Hann-Chorng published an article on the life quality enhancement of spinal cord injury patients through appropriate urinary care. Furthermore, the founding of the Tzu Chi College of Medicine (now Tzu Chi University) had made clinical examination a topic of research. Lua Ahai-Chang, the director of department of laboratory medicine and biotechnology, TCU, collaborated with the Department of Health (now Ministry of Health and Welfare), on a study of alcohol and amphetamine abuse among pregnant women in Hualien and tests of illicit drug and alcohol abuse in Hualien.
Passing on the Torch
“As far as I am concern, the current medical and educational institutes of Tzu Chi are not supportive enough in regards to the journal. Kaohsiung journal of medical sciences, for example, was founded about three decades ago, and Biomedical Journal by Chang Gung University four decades ago. In order to increase the ranking of their journals, these universities and their hospitals have reached a consensus, where publications in these journals are mandatory for faculty promotion. We had proposed to the university and the hospital ten, twenty years ago to introduce the same, never once did we receive an approval from our supervisor. Their primary concern was that the implementation of publication on TCMJ as a mandatory requirement may lead to rejections
“When it comes to inviting articles, we have established a positive relationship with medical experts of all disciplines both domestically and internationally. They have been outstanding reviewers for our journal, too. When we first started the journal, we received recognitions from many of our seniors in the medical field. ’The name Kuo Hann-Chorng alone, and the fact that he is in Hualien, deserve our support.’ Many reviewers would frown upon low-quality manuscripts from a new journal like ours and refuse to waste any time on it,” Kuo Hand-Chorng said bluntly.
“In 2012 or 2013, Prof. Chiu Ted. H, who was very supportive of the journal, assumed the position of section editor and reviewer of TCMJ after retirement. We spoke once about the shortage of submissions, and that the journal could benefit immensely from overseas submissions. Prof. Chiu was about to host an international symposium with leading experts from Europe and the U.S. He came up with the idea to invite these experts to write short review articles, and I said short reviews within 1,500 words would be terrific. He went and asked the symposium attendees if they could write us some review articles and deliver them before the symposium begins. Since the speakers must complete an abstract prior to the symposium, completing a review article in one or two days was simple enough. We received an overwhelming amount of articles and dispersed it over several issues. These well-written articles enriched the contents of our journal, allowing us to achieve a remarkably high score during review. The glory was short lived. After that, whenever faculties of the Tzu Chi College of Medicine talk about this, it was just that, talks. They could not in fact live up to their promises. I am grateful for the honorable deeds Prof. Chiu had done for the journal to this day. His action defined mindfulness. Started in 2017, following the same pattern, I invited young physicians around the country who are passionate in writing, and are productive as well. I asked them to arrange and design a grand theme for review articles, invite four to six faculties to write for us, spread these manuscripts across subsequent issues to enhance their readability, and so that we do not run out of articles to publish. I hope that these new young recruits can be the future successors of the journal. I am currently carrying the weight of the journal on my shoulder alone, but I hope that would not be the case in the future. Perhaps a dozen of us, working together, improving the quantity and quality of the journal. I hope that after 30 issues, someone will be there to succeed my place. After all, sitting in the seat of chief editor for 30 years is a little bit too long."
Dr. Kuo, 63 years old (dated 2017), sincerely hopes for the addition of new recruits who would take his place. “We have been running the journal for 29 years and it has yet to be indexed in SCI. Under these circumstances, people would hesitate to take over, since it could become an overwhelming burden for the new recruits. Starting 2017, the TCMJ is reaching a new milestone: indexed by PubMed Central® (PMC®). PubMed, PMC and MEDLINE (NLM journal citation database) are archives operating on the same platform. We have passed the scientific quality review of PMC in Oct. 2016, and is now awaiting the technical evaluation. After meeting their requirements, all we have to do is to send them articles from every issue, and PMC would release them to the public site. In principle, we have already passed their evaluation. Technical issues are left to the publisher. Under the circumstance, it would be relatively easy for us to find new chief editor and deputy editors. Articles that have been published online are easier to access, and with full text available for download, number of citations should increase."
PubMed is a database of citations and abstracts for more than 27 million articles. PubMed Central® (PMC) is an electronic archive of full-text journal articles, offering free access to its contents. PMC contains more than 4 million articles, most of which have a corresponding entry in PubMed.
Retracing the history of TCMJ, it is easy to spot, behind the substantial researches published, the empathy and diligence of medical staff and researchers of Tzu Chi Hospital on the issues of health and safety in the hospital and in Hualien region. They have documented in detail these issues and transformed them into exceptional articles that are of significant reference value to Taiwan and to the world in researches of regional or specific diseases.
In regards to the future of TCMJ, as editors, we will continue to hold our standards high, place more emphasis on the acceptance, rejection, and use of manuscripts, so the journal can ascend in rankings. Our ultimate goal is for the TCMJ to be included in SCI as a top scientific journal worldwide.
一九八九年五月一日，《慈濟醫學雜誌》（TZU CHI MEDICAL JOURNAL）正式創刊，每年出版四期，逢三月、六月、九月、十二月出刊，當時是由慈濟醫學研究部負責發行的一本專業季刊。創刊迄今，由泌尿部郭漢崇主任承擔總編輯重任。最早期的雜誌中文名稱為：《慈濟醫學》，採用信紙尺寸（Letter size）。爾後再加上兩字，正名為：《慈濟醫學雜誌》，同時為符合國際醫學期刊規範，改採國際標準期刊尺寸出刊。曾有一段時期，刊頭印刷中文發行，橫書提字：慈濟醫學雜誌，是採用上人委請書法名家王北岳先生揮毫撰寫，筆力蒼勁。
郭漢崇指出：「ELSEVIER是國際間很大的一家出版社，很多重要期刊都與它合作，希望《慈濟醫學雜誌》能夠邁向國際化。我們當初要與美國國家醫學圖書館（NLM，National Library of Medicine）申請PubMed的索引收錄，原先並無找任何出版社協助，僅找印刷廠印刷而已，出版社仍以慈濟基金會作為出版人，後來當然被拒絕了！我們開始思索，應該要找出版社協助，鑑於當時正好《臺灣醫學會雜誌》也找ELSEVIER合作，得知此一訊息之後，我們便與之接觸。ELSEVIER同意後，也設了很多條件，包括要按照國際規格等，就這樣做了蠻多年的。」
但由於ELSEVIER經營方向改變，於2016年年底約滿時，不再續約。從2017年至2019年的十二期刊物，改與「飛資得醫學資訊股份有限公司」合作，運用Wolters Kluwer之 Medknow系統平台，進行電子期刊的出版、推廣及宣傳。慈濟醫學雜誌編輯部提供主編及編輯委員會審查通過之稿件，由「飛資得醫學資訊股份有限公司」協助於Medknow平台完成刊物格式、英修、編排、標示與其他一切完成稿件之線上開放存取出版所必須者，包括文章DOI (數位物件識別號)申請、評估與申請國外檢索資料庫等，以及與Wolters Kluwer（India）Pvt. Ltd.間之「出版合作協議」（Publishing Agreement）所約定事項之溝通與協助。
雜誌內容，依照國際科學性醫學期刊的標準編排順序，依序區分為：綜論（Review Article）、原著（Original Article），可再細分為基礎及臨床部分、病例報告（Case Report）等章節。並積極開發小品文，以及具有教育性的病理之頁(Pathology Page)、影像之頁(Images in Clinical Medicine)、醫學倫理(Medical Ethics)…等。綜論及原著部分，在雜誌內容佔有很重要的地位，可透過邀稿或自己撰寫。綜論的稿源，一般由學有專精的大師級人物書寫，也有部分是老師請學生先研讀相關領域的書籍，再寫作心得。