Updates for Our Medicine and the Arts Feature 

Medicine and the Arts (MATA) is Academic Medicine’s longest-running feature. Since 1991, MATA authors have explored the relationship between art and the teaching, learning, and practice of medicine. MATA has long served a unique role in the literature of health professions education by inviting moments of reflection on medicine as seen through the lens of the arts and humanities. To ensure the ongoing success of the MATA feature in an ever-evolving digital landscape, we are announcing some updates to how we handle the artwork that forms the basis of all MATA pieces. 

Each MATA piece comprises a work of art—a painting, photograph, poem, literary excerpt, etc.—and an original commentary reflecting on that work’s connection to the teaching, learning, or practice of medicine. When a MATA author wishes to feature a work of art that is copyrighted elsewhere, journal staff must seek permission to reproduce the work and pay any necessary licensing fees to do so. Increasingly, we hear from copyright holders that they will not allow the work to be reproduced online. You might have noticed that many of our MATA commentaries appear in our digital archive without the accompanying work of art; this happens because of licensing restrictions. In addition to these restrictions, it can be a lengthy process to secure permission to reproduce a work, which requires authors to wait months before their submission can be officially accepted, edited, and published with the requisite permissions in place. 

With this in mind, we offer the following updates: 

  • When submitting a manuscript to the MATA section, authors will be asked to provide all relevant and available information about the piece they are explicating, such as contact information for the copyright holder. This enables staff editors to work with authors to complete the process of acquiring permission. 
  • Priority will be given to submissions that feature original artwork (i.e., work that is not copyrighted elsewhere). 
  • Journal editors may opt to provide a link to the artwork if it is available elsewhere online (e.g., a museum or gallery website, a recording artist’s online song catalog) rather than reproducing it in the journal. 

Our intention is to expedite the review and publication process at a time when it can be challenging to license digital content for reproduction.  It is our hope that this change will allow new opportunities to showcase the richly meaningful interactions between medicine and the arts. 

By: Mary Beth DeVilbiss, Director of Journals, AAMC, and Arno K. Kumagai, MD, Assistant Editor for Medicine and the Arts, Academic Medicine