We launched Free Association in November 2005, as one of the first two Nature Publishing Group journal blogs. Our blog was launched as a pioneering effort by our then Senior Editor Alan Packer (who has since moved to a position as Associate Director for Research at the Simons Foundation ), as a new way for the editors of Nature Genetics to engage our community. We did so with excitement about interacting and discussing papers and community issues on a more informal level than is possible in our print publication. At the same time, I recall that we (the Nature Genetics editors at the time) shared some concerns about what we would be able to discuss, given the confidential nature of the peer review process. We also wondered if our community of authors, reviewers, and readers alike would manage to find time and interest in posting on our site. While these concerns have in some part remained, we have a new perspective as we move into the 7th year of this blog and with the launch of this new site.
Over these years, we have maintained Free Association as an editor driven blog, used to highlight and discuss our own content, press and feedback from the community, and to announce special events. We will continue to post on these topics, and are also welcoming guest posts on topics relevant to our own content and our genetics/genomics community.
We have also experimented with using this blog as a means to discuss and develop community standards and research guidelines relevant to our community, but we have now shifted to using the data standards section of Nature Precedings for this purpose.
This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the launch of Nature Genetics. I have been fortunate enough to be an editor here since 2004 (yes, I do remember our pages pre-GWAS), and have to admit that every year I find myself saying that this is one of the most exciting times to be in this field. We have much to celebrate in advances within the genetics and genomics communities. All I will say for now is that you should stay closely tuned for how we will mark this anniversary. Comments and suggestions are of course welcome.
Senior Editor, Nature Genetics