The First Rough Draft of History: Classic Articles in UROLOGY

        The former publisher of the Washington Post, Philip Graham, is generally credited for having been the first to observe that journalism is “the first rough draft of history”, subject to deadlines, gaps in knowledge and incomplete truths, and subsequent refining through the prism of time and perspective. In reviewing the attached collection of the most-cited manuscripts published in UROLOGY, I am struck by how this applies to academic publications as well – as new concepts, surgical techniques, technology, and data emerge, a manuscript in the medical literature serves as a way to disseminate new knowledge, be a harbinger of new paradigms, settle old questions, pose new ones, and allow for the community at large to pause, reflect, argue, and ultimately settle on new truths. Some of those publications go on to be classics because of the truths they contain; some are destined to fade because they were ultimately shown to be wrong, unsupported by real-world practice, or supplanted by subsequent advances. This collection of Classic Articles in UROLOGY represents the former category of articles whose truths mostly still stand long after their publication – the first description of a still widely used tool, the International Index of Erectile Function, published in 1997; an early report on the efficacy of adding androgen deprivation to external beam radiation for treatment of prostate cancer, which helped established a standard still in use today (1995); the first report of the safety and efficacy of the 5α-reductase inhibitor dutasteride for LUTS due to BPH, still in use today (2002). Some represent the rise and fall of a new approach to surgery – the first description of laparoscopic radical prostatectomy (1997) – which has largely gone by the wayside but served as an important conceptual foundation for robotic prostatectomy. Looking back on these articles, all of which I read eagerly in real time when they were first published, makes me wonder which of the articles in the current literature will stand the test of time, and as an editor makes me eager each week to review the journal's inbox of newly submitted articles and which ones may themselves become classics.
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