Biomedica Editorial Board meeting discuss measures to improve the journal

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 Biomedica Editorial Board meeting
discuss measures to improve the journal

LAHORE: An Editorial Board meeting of Biomedica, official publication of University of Health Sciences was held at UHS campus on June 11, 2015. It was jointly chaired by Prof. A.H. Nagi Founding Chief Editor and Prof. I. A. Naveed Executive Editor of the Journal. Others who were present included Dr. Saqib Mahmood, Dr. Nadeem Afzal, Mr. Muhammad Atif, Dr. Nadia  Naseem Dr. Shah Jahan, Ms. Tahira Bano, Brig. Ihsanul Haq Wafa. Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid Chief Editor and Dr. Masood Jawaid Associate Editor of Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences attended the meeting on a special invitation.

Prof. A.H. Nagi briefed the participants about the history of Biomedica which started publication about thirty yeas ago and has made tremendous progress. Recently the rights and publication of the journal has been legally transferred to the University of Health Sciences under an agreement and now measures are being taken to further improve its quality and standard of the accepted manuscripts. The present working of the journal was also explained and shared with the participants. After detailed discussion on various issues, the following decisions were taken which will be implemented in the first phase:

  1. Since Biomedica is an official publication of University of Health Sciences, the UHS logo should appear prominently on the title page.
  2. Website address of the journal should also appear prominently on the title page.
  3. All manuscripts received for publication must be immediately acknowledged, given a reference number which should also be conveyed to the authors. They should be asked to mention that reference number in all future correspondence.
  4. The authors should be advised to mention their Mobile Phone Number in addition to the e mail address for correspondence so that if need be, they can be contacted in emergency to clarify minor things. The cell number should be removed at the time of publication during editing.
  5. In order to ensure uniformity, the structured abstract should be under four titles i.e. Objective, Methods, Results, Conclusion and Key Words. If need be Background can be added with objective. The authors should be advised to follow this pattern.
  6. In order to avoid any confusion whether the study is on patients, healthy subjects or materials, always use the word Method in structured abstract and in the text. One can use either Method or Methodology but once a decision is taken, the same word should be used throughout the journal whether it is Method or Methodology. It overcomes the problem of whether to write Material and Methods, Subjects and Methods or Patients and Methods.
  7. Maximum number of references for original articles should be up to 25, for Case Reports and Special Communications, Brief Communications up to ten. For Reviews the number of references can be over thirty five to forty depending on the subject.
  8. All manuscripts must be carefully edited before passing them on for page make to the staff on computers. Make sure that Capital letters are used where essential like World Health Organization, University of Health Sciences and avoid mistakes like World health Organization, university of Health sciences.
  9. Latest International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) guidelines state that while writing references one should list up to six authors and then write et al. If there are four or five authors list all of them.  Do not write et al after two, three or four authors. In case of any problem, it is better to remove the world et al; otherwise it will give the impression that the Editor is not conversant with the latest ICMJE Guidelines.
  10. In order to ensure that no fraudulent data, unethical study is published, authors should be asked to submit Ethics Committee approval or Institutional Review Board approval   while submitting the manuscript.  Those who fail to provide EC approval, their manuscripts should not be entertained. Moreover, all the authors must sign a declaration i.e. Letter of Undertaking confirming exclusive submission of the manuscript to the journal. It will also avoid any scientific misconduct.
  11. All manuscripts must be screened for plagiarisms before processing them further. This is already being done by Biomedica using TurnitIn software.
  12. ICMJE Guidelines on authorship should be followed. Once the manuscript is accepted for publication, addition of any new author should not be permitted. If in some special case,  while revising the manuscript in response to the reviewers comments, some one has contributed significantly to be eligible for authorship, permission can be granted but they must submit a fresh LOU signed by all authors.
  13. Individual author’s contribution of all the listed authors must be included at the end of the manuscript. This will also discourage Gift Authorship to some extent.
  14. After page make up the manuscript should be sent to the authors for final proof reading with a request to respond within a week failing which the manuscript may have to be dropped from the current issue. It will minimize the responsibilities of the Editorial Staff and also reduce their workload to some extent.
  15. To honour and recognize the contribution of Reviewers, they can be sent Thanks letter from time to time. Secondly they should be given one CME Credit point per article they review which is being practiced by some other institutions in the country i.e.  CPSP, DUHS, Khyber Medical University etc.
  16. Some members of the Editorial Board requested that a Training course must be organized for them in Medical Journal Publishing. Mr.Shaukat Ali Jawaid said that he had already conducted such courses at Karachi, at UHS in Lahore, at PIMS in Islamabad and at Khyber Medical University in Peshawar. I am currently updating the Training Manual which will take few weeks. It is a Full Day course from 8.30 AM to 5.00 PM.  Hence we can organize this course for those interested on a day and date convenient for every one. A final decision about this will be taken later.

In the second phase when the journal will go for automation using e Journal system, the staff will have to be trained and some more improvements can be implemented. In the second phase the journal should apply for Impact Factor to ISI/Thompson Reuter in USA. It was also pointed out that all these changes can be introduced gradually as the human resources permit.