Training in Medical Journalism by a Mentor


 Training in Medical Journalism by a Mentor

Dr. Muhammad Usman Ghani MBBS, FCPS (PSYCH)
Assistant Prof. Rawal Institute of Health Sciences Islamabad
Associate Editor Rawal Medical Journal (RMJ),

Dr. Maqbool H Jafary training scholarship for junior medical editors was an opportunity for me to learn and furnish my editorial skills in medical journalism. It provides an excellent opportunity on how to run journal effectively, when resources are scarce. I consider myself lucky to be selected for this week long training course organized by Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences under the supervision of Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid its chief editor. This programme has been started by the journal in the memory of its founder chief editor late Dr. Maqbool H Jafary FRCP former President of Eastern Mediterranean Association of Medical Editors (EMAME).


Dr. Usman Ghani
Assistant Editor,
Rawal Medical Journal

The training course covered a vast area starting from the online submissions on the journal website to final publication after internal and external peer review, plagiarism check etc. Details of the course have been covered in detail by my other trainee colleague Mr. Rehan Ahsan Malik, Manager” Life and Science” Journal in his report which is also being published in this issue. During this week long training course we practically observed every aspect related to medical journal publishing which was quite informative and useful to publish the journal successfully and also ensure its long term financial sustainability, ensuring regular publication while maintaining standard by publishing good quality research.

Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid started publishing Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences (PJMS) thirty four years ago (1984) and has made tremendous progress over these years. It is one of the three medical journals published from Pakistan which are covered by the Clarivate Analytics formerly Thompson Reuter known for its Impact Factor. Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences has maintained highest Impact Factor among the Pakistani Medical journals for the last three years which is a no mean achievement.

 We also realized that starting the Journal is not an issue but to ensure its regular publication and sustain it in the long run, preserve its credibility and have a lasting impact is not an easy task. Various business models for the journals were also discussed in detail to generate funds. It included through advertisements, processing and publication charges, donations. Increased visibility and readership will result in submissions from overseas as well which will also help in attaining financial sustainability. Timely communication and feedback to the authors helps in earning their trust and confidence.

The course laid emphasis on certain basics like having a proper office for the journal, minimum full time staff with proper computer, internet facilities, and dedicated team. Proper monitoring, time management, quality assurance, keeping oneself update with latest developments in the field of medical journalism by attending workshops, courses, conferences organized by various bodies of medical editors like PAME in Pakistan and EMAME in the EMRO region. Judicious use of available human and financial resources, setting up a Reviewers Database and practicing peer review system, retaining good reviewers, appreciation of office staff, thanking the reviewers and acknowledging their contributions are all helpful in ensuring journal’s credibility.

Publication ethics and handling of scientific misconduct were also discussed during the course. Flow Charts developed by Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) UK, we were told are very helpful in taking decisions in such cases. It was emphasized that everything should be properly documented and make sure that one takes decisions which can be defended ethically, professionally, scientifically and legally. Lastly Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid made a pointed reference that “One must listen to Zameer Hussain, if it is alive”. It will warn you whenever you have a temptation to do something which is unethical.

Dr. Maqbool H Jafary training scholarship programme is a good initiative for young editors. My best wishes for the dedicated staff of PJMS and its Chief Editor. Their professionalism and dedication will work as a light house for us to find our destination.

I would like to thank Prof. Nasir Khokhar Editor-in-Chief Rawal Medical Journal who recommend me for this training programme and guided me through each step. I would also like to thank Prof. Mazhar Malik for his recommendation and giving me the opportunity to participate in this course. Lastly special thanks to Mr. Mubarak Ali Production Editor at Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences for his support and invaluable inputs during our endeavor to complete this training.

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