HEC, PM&DC & PAME should collaborate to promote Medical Journalism and research culture-Prof. Arshad Javed


Seminar on Medical Journalism in Pakistan at NUMS

HEC, PM&DC & PAME should collaborate to
promote Medical Journalism and research
culture - Prof. Arshad Javed

We have inadequate health infrastructure, need to train
authors, reviewers and editors to enhance our contributions
to medical literature - Lt. Gen. Imran Majid

Editors highlight problems faced by Journals 
and the need to find indigenous solutions

RAWALPINDI: National University of Medical Sciences (NUMS) in collaboration with Pakistan Association of Medical Editors (PAME) and Eastern Mediterranean Association of Medical Editors (EMAME) organized a daylong seminar on Medical Journalism in Pakistan which attracted a large number of editors of medical journals from the twin cities of Rawalpindi-Islamabad. It was a historic meeting in a way because it was for the first time that representatives from Higher Education Commission (HEC) and Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PM&DC) and Editors of medical journals sat together in a meeting where problems faced by the medical journals were discussed in detail and an effort was made to find some indigenous solutions. The initiative to organize this academic activity was taken by Prof. Maj. Gen. Muhammad Aslam Pro VC of NUMS. The seminar was formally inaugurated by Lt. Gen. Imran Majid Vice Chancellor of NUMS and it was jointly chaired by him alongwith Prof. Arshad Javed Vice Chancellor of Khyber Medical University who is also Chairman of the Journals Committee in the PM&DC. The HEC was represented by Mr. Aqeel Akhtar Khan, Director (QAD) and Mrs. Dur-e-Shahwar Deputy Director Quality Assurance Division while PM&DC was represented by its Registrar Dr. Waseem Hassan Hashmi and Deputy Registrar Dr. Shaista Zeeshan. Pakistan Health Research Council was represented by Mr. Ibrar Rafique Assistant Editor/ Research Officer, PJMR.

National University of Medical Sciences in collaboration with PAME and EMAME organized a daylong 
seminar on Medical Journalism in Pakistan at NUMS campus on August 16, 2018. Picture taken on 
the occasion shows Prof.Arshad Javed VC KMU and Chairman of Journals Committee of PM&DC
along with Lt.Gen. Syed Imran Majeed VC NUMS chairing the session. Also sitting on the dais
from (L to R) are Maj.Gen. Saleem Ahmad Khan Principal AMC and Maj.Gen.Tahir Khalid

In his inaugural address Lt. Gen. Syed Imran Majid stated that almost one third of overseas doctors in UK are from Pakistan while their number in United States was almost one fourth of overseas physicians. Patients prefer to consult Pakistani doctors. However, most of the Pakistani doctors are not in academic positions whereas Indians are occupying many coveted positions in academics and they always try to undermine Pakistan. We have a significant mismatch. We have inadequate health infrastructure and according to reports now only 18% of brilliant students are going to the medical colleges. Healthcare professionals Gen. Imran Majid opined can be the best diplomats and authorities need to utilize their services effectively. The Journals Committee in PM&DC is now headed by Prof. Arshad Javed and it has done lot of useful work during the recent few months. It is hoped that we will witness lot of improvements in its functioning in the days to come including evaluation of medical journals. Now we have many medical universities. In the past general universities could not give due importance to medicine and did not understand medical topics. We will support all such academic activities in future as well, he added.

Dr. Rehma Gilani Editor of Life and Science a new journal which is being published by NUMS in her presentation gave a brief overview of this journal. This, she said, will be an open access multidisciplinary journal and we will have no publication charges. She also highlighted the importance of training of reviewers, gave details of their editorial policy and the Editorial Board.

Maj. Gen. (Retd) Mohammad Aslam Pro VC of NUMS in his introductory remarks pointed out that there are two hundred million people living in Pakistan, it has 189 HEC chartered universities and degree awarding institutions including twenty nine medical universities and 157 medical colleges. HEC has recognized 371 journals which includes medical journals but only twelve journals from Pakistan including three medical journals are covered by Web of Sciences currently known as Clarivate Analytics which enjoy Impact Factor as per the JCR released in June 2018. The objective of the seminar is to highlight the problems faced by the medical journals and make an effort to find some indigenous solutions. Earlier Gen. Mohammad Aslam also read a message from Dr. Fatema Javed Chief Editor of JPMA who emphasized the importance of having good editorial staff, not to overburden the efficient reviewers. Editors should have adequate knowledge, know their responsibilities and authority. They should not over charge the authors, help weak authors, and be honest and dedicated to their profession.

Lt. Gen. Syed Imran Majeed VC NUMS presenting mementoes from (L to R) Dr. Masood Jawaid, 
Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid Chief Editor Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences and Prof. Arshad Javed 
VC KMU at the conclusion 
of daylong seminar on Medical Journalism held
at NUMS campus on August 16th, 2018.

Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid shared the success story of Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences with the participants. This journal, he said, was launched in 1984 as a CME Journal. It was recognized by PM&DC in 1988 and was converted into a general medical journal in 1991. The title was changed to Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences in January 2000, it was recognized by HEC in 2006 and at present it is in W category. We started online edition in 2002, was made Bi-monthly in 2013 and Ethics Committee IRB approval was made mandatory for acceptance of manuscripts for publication since January 2013. It became member of Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) in 2002 and it was renewed in January 2017. It is covered in IMEMR since 2003, Islamic Science Citation Index since 2006, got Impact Factor in 2012. It is now covered by most of the leading databases of the world. We have subscribed iThenticate software to check plagiarism, have subscribed to CrossRef for DOI, CrossCheck, we are members of COPE UK. We went to Medline through PubMed Central in January 2013 when we started submitting the XML files of the manuscripts published in our journal to them.

Continuing Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid said that he had facilitated workshops all over the country besides many countries overseas, am founder member of EMAME and have attended all EMAME conferences so far, organized EMMJ5 at CPSP Karachi in 2010, have attended APAME conferences in Malaysia and Seoul Korea, conducted workshops on medical writing and peer review at numerous medical universities in Iran, Bangladesh and UAE and all this provided us an opportunity to promote the journal, improve social networking, were able to recruit many new good reviewers. Did some special projects for Isfahan University of Medical Sciences Iran. We follow author and reviewer friendly policy, started processing overseas manuscripts on priority basis. We have created a pool of loyal authors and reviewers. At present we attract manuscripts from over fifty countries. We offer lot of privileges to our reviewers which has enabled us to not only recruit but retain good reviewers. As regards finances, our source of revenue is 5% from advertising while the rest 95% are generated through author’s payment. We are now self-sufficient, do not accept any financial grant from HEC, being self-employed person enjoy complete independence. Decisions taken are quickly implemented. Because of increased submissions, we are choosy and select the best papers. We have eleven staff members including five who are part time. We do our self-audit every year. Currently we enjoy the highest Impact Factor among medical journals in Pakistan for the last three years. Editors, he further stated, has to work under lot of stress and pressures. Since it is not possible to please everyone, one ends up making lot of enemies and authors are the most dangerous pressure group which an editor has to deal with, he added.

On left Lt.Gen. Syed Imran Majeed VC NUMS presenting a certificate to Prof. Akhtar Sherin while on
right from (L to R) Prof.Arshad Javed VC KMU and Chairman of Journals Committee in  PM&DC
presenting certificates to the speakers Prof. Nasir Khokhar, Brig.Khadija,
Dr. Rehma Gilani and Prof. M. Ayub.

Brig. Khadija talked about the Pakistan Armed Forces Medical Journal. This journal also covers military medicine which has an impact on health issues. Manuscripts she said, are mostly reviewed by military personnel. We were told by HEC to involve international reviewers, adopt manuscript management system. EC approval is now must for acceptance of papers. We need clearance from MI and ISPR before manuscripts are published. Back log needs to be cleared. The problems we face, she stated are no formal training to editorial staff. Website need web managers. We were recently downgraded by HEC without informing us. It is an honorary job and we all do it as an additional work without any incentives. We run the journal on self-help basis. We have recently started charging the authors to generate some funds, she added.

Major Gen. Tahir Khalid gave details related to Pakistan Journal of Pathology. He pointed out that they do not charge any fee from the authors. Most of the editorial board members are form AFIP besides a few from AKU and Shaukat Khanum Hospital. We follow ICMJE guidelines. There is not much institutional support, we face problems of funding for publishing. He also referred to the problem of ghost authors who at times also write the Thesis, he added.

Lt.Gen. Syed Imran Majeed VC NUMS presenting a copy of the Book “Scientific Writing: A Guide 
to the Art of Medical Writing and Scientific Publishing” authored by Mr.Shaukat Ali Jawaid and
Masood Jawaid to Mr. Aqeel Akhtar Khan, Director (QAD) from HEC and Dr. Waseem

Hassan Hashmi Registrar PM&DC during the seminar on Medical Journalism held
at NUMS campus on August 16th, 2018.

Prof. Akhtar Sherin Chief Editor Khyber Medical University Journal gave historical background of this journal which was the first one to start using Open Journal System. He listed a large number of data bases which one must get into before applying for PubMed and PubMed Central or coverage by Web of Sciences. The journal needs good antenatal care. Though at present we do not have Impact Factor but we are trying but we are getting lot of citations, he remarked.

Prof. Nasir Khokhar described the function of Rawal Medical Journal which is owned by Rawalpindi-Islamabad PMA. It is self-financed, decisions on submitted manuscripts are taken within sixty days. He also gave details of manuscripts submitted to the journal from 2003-2018 and the number of those which were accepted for publication. Authors, he said, face problems in uploading the manuscript on the journal website. Other problems we face include duplicate submissions, inexperienced reviewers, reviewers have to be sent reminders to respond. There is lack of motivation among the editors, there is no regular financial assistance while editorial team needs education and training.

Prof. Mohammad Ayub Editor of Pakistan Journal of Physiology was the last speaker in this session who gave detailed history of the journal, how it started and the problems they continue to face. We started with empty pocket and even without a proper declaration. He amused the participants by sharing the hardships he as an Editor of a basic science journal had to face and that too physiology in which not many are interested.

The presentations were followed by lively discussion. Most of the participants criticized the criteria used for evaluation of the journals by the PM&DC as well as HEC, the quality of their training programmes and irregular financial assistance. Representative of the HEC pointed out that there is some misconception that as if we take these decisions. In fact it is an experts committee consisting of medical professionals who evaluates the journals and places them in various categories. More recently it has downgraded six journals because some of them claimed that they were recognized by HEC though they are not. We will certainly look into some of the points which have been raised and try to resolve them.

Suggestions and Recommendations

Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid wound up the discussion with some suggestions and recommendations. He pointed out that medical journalism has now emerged as a discipline in its own right. We are living in an era of professionalism, hence professional editors should be appointed to run and manage the medical journals or people should be hired and then trained to do this job. One can be a good physician or surgeon but not necessarily prove to be a good Editor. For many doctors medical editorship is a fourth love hence they cannot devote much time and editing a good quality peer reviewed journal is a very demanding stressful job.

Group photograph of participants and speakers with Lt.Gen. Syed Imran Majeed and Maj. Gen.M.Aslam 
VC and Pro VC of NUMS respectively and other senior officers after the conclusion of daylong seminar 
on Medical Journalism in Pakistan held at NUMS on August 16th 2018 organized by National University 
of Medical Sciences in collaboration with Pakistan Association of Medical Editors (PAME) and Eastern 

Mediterranean Association of Medical Editors (EMAME).

The editors, he further stated, should be given contract appointments which can be renewed again, they must be clearly informed about their rights and responsibilities, they must enjoy complete independence, every journal must have a proper office and employ minimum requisite staff and they must be provided training opportunities. Regulatory bodies like HEC and PM&DC should act as facilitators rather than policing the journals. Listen to their grievances and try to redress them. HEC in particular must arrange the facility of XML files software which will help many journals to go on to the PubMed Central thereby making them visible on the PubMed as well. PAME in collaboration with EMAME has been conducting training courses for Editors, workshops on Medical Writing and Peer Review. We have created Fund and offer travel grants to our members to attend meeting overseas and we hope to continue providing this facility. Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences has also started Dr. Maqbool Jafary Training Scholarships for Junior Editors and we train one editor every year. This is just our humble contribution to promote the cause of medical journalism in Pakistan. PAME and EMAME will continue to provide these facilities within their meagre resources and we offer our services to HEC and PM&DC without any obligation. The role of professional medical writers was also highlighted in detail. He also thanked NUMS, its Vice Chancellor Lt.Gen. Imran Majid and Pro VC Prof. Mohammad Aslam in particular for providing this opportunity to the medical editors to discuss various important issues they are facing at present. He also gave copies of his latest book on “Scientific Writing: A Guide to the Art of Medical Writing and Scientific Publishing” to the VC NUMS for presentation to the representatives of HEC and PM&DC.

Prof. Arshad Javed in his concluding remarks said that the criteria used by HEC for evaluation of journals was much better than PM&DC. We are trying to improve ourselves and that is why we have now involved a few professional medical editors in the Journals committee. In the past we were not utilizing their services. He commended the role being played by PAME which consists of selfless dedicated group of medical editors who are doing a commendable job and making slow but gradual progress. Activities like this will go a long way in promoting the discipline of medical journalism. He was glad that for the first time they have been able to bridge the gap and now representatives of HEC, PM&DC as well as medical editors were sitting together discussing the problems. He hoped it will not only help us find indigenous solutions to these problems but will also promote research culture. He urged the HEC, PM&DC as well as PAME to work in close collaboration to promote medical journalism. It will result in our enhanced contributions to the medical literature. He also disclosed that KMU has started quite a few new journals including Journal of Basic Sciences. Prof.Arshad Javed also thanked NUMS, its Vice Chancellor Lt. Gen. Imran Majid, Pro VC Prof. Mohammad Aslam and PAME for organizing such a wonderfull seminar. Later VC NUMS presented mementoes among the speakers.

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