Editor must have complete independence to ensure quality, standard and timely publication of the journal


 Training course for Editors/Editorial Board Members at ANMC Islamabad

Editor must have complete independence to
ensure quality, standard and timely
publication of the journal

Selection of Editorial Board members should be on merit,
only those should be invited who are interested,
have time and can actively contribute

ISLAMABAD:  An Editor must enjoy complete editorial freedom to ensure quality, standard and timely publication of a journal.  Contract appointment of the Editor must specify the tenure of office, rights as well as responsibilities. Similarly great care needs to be taken while selecting members of the Editorial Board. Only those should be invited who are keen, interested, have time and can actively contribute. This was stated by Mr.Shaukat Ali Jawaid, Chief Editor Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences and Secretary Eastern Mediterranean Association of Medical Editors (EMAME) while conducting a training course for Editors/Editorial Board Members of Isra Medical Journal organized by Al-Nafees Medical College Hospital at Isra University Campus, Islamabad on March 8-9th 2018.  The course was attended by twenty two participants including Prof.Umar Ali Khan Pro Vice Chancellor/Principal of ANMC.

Prof. Ishtiaq along with Prof. Ghulam Mustafa Lodhi (Vice Principal ANMC) and Prof. Salman Tipu,
presenting a Shield to Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid who conducted a two day workshop for Editors/Editorial
Board Members of IMJ
on how to run a successful Journal on behalf of INMCH/Isra University.

Editing and publishing a quality peer reviewed journal Mr.Shaukat Ali Jawaid further stated is a very stressful and frustrating job. An editor has to face lot of pressure and authors is the most dangerous pressure group an editor has to face who wish to get their manuscripts published soon after submission. Eventually the editor ends up annoying a lot of people. While it is essential that an Editor pursues an author friendly policy but they are not supposed to compromise on quality. The journal websites  should give complete information about the types of manuscripts accepted, write-ups which are not entertained, processing and publiaiton charges, plagiarism policy, likely time period form submission to acceptance and publication,  peer review system etc., Complete transparency should be ensured and there should be no hidden charges.

Increased visibility of the journal will ensure increased submissions which will allow the editor an opportunity to select the best papers from the submissions. The quality bar should be gradually raised. Original research, epidemiological studies, Randomized Control Trials, Systemic Reviews carry more weightage and should be preferred.  Categorization of the manuscripts is another important issue which needs to be addressed which of course depends on the journal policy. During initial triage make sure that the authors have made complete submissions with all the required documents including certificate of exclusive submission. In order to ensure that no fraudulent data gets accepted, make sure that all submissions are accompanied by study protocol approval by the Ethics Committee/Institutional Review Board.

Replying to a question it was pointed out that all appointments including Editor and Editorial Board members should be for a particular tenure which can be extended based on their performance. This will also provide the editor an opportunity to replace those EDB members who are too busy and cannot find time to contribute. At times in case of journal owned by an institution or professional specialty organization, these selections are politically motivated which can be a disaster. Hence to avoid such a situation, one can ask those politically important personalities to nominate and suggest few names for Editorial Board Membership which will satisfy them and will not hurt their ego as well.

During editorial triage, accept only those manuscript which you think are useful, informative, important for your readers. An editor should also be mindful of the journal’s strength and weaknesses, how to cope with challenges and benefit from the opportunities. Establish an effective peer review system. Single blind, double blind and Open Peer Review System all have their advantages and disadvantages. It is upto the Editor and Journal policy which system they wish to adopt which they can use effectively. It is also important to review the Reviews before the reviewers comments are communicated to the authors. No manuscript should be rejected without giving any valid reasons. Peer Reviewer’s comments should help the authors to improve their manuscript. Reviewers, it must be remembered are advisors and not the decision makers. It is the Editor who enjoys the final authority to accept and reject any manuscript at any stage as at the end of the day it is the Editor who is responsible to maintain, protect the credibility and integrity of the journal and it is the editor who also faces the music. Editors must be patient as at times they have to listen to lot of accusations and receive nasty e mails, comments from the authors whose manuscripts are not accepted for further processing.

Reviewer’s data as well as Editorial Board must have representation from all over the country, depending on the scope of the journal, regional and international representation. Reviewers’ database must be regularly updated based on their performance. This is an important criterion which leading international databases look at while accepting the journal for their coverage. Many a times English language and Grammar in submitted manuscripts needs lot of improvement. If resources permit, one can have Copy Editors to do` this job otherwise this can be performed by the Editor, Editorial Board members. One can also have Section Editors looking after different specialties in case of a General Journal. Ensure variety in the contents so that the journal has a much wider readership.

Do not overburden the good reviewers. Retaining good reviewers is yet another challenge, hence always recognize their contributions, give them due respect. Depending on the journal resources one can offer them facilities. It includes provision of books, useful reading material, allowing discount in processing and publication charges, fast track processing facility for their submissions, publication of their names at the end of the year, appreciation certificates, facilitating their participation in conferences, training courses, workshops, provision of gifts etc. Good authors can be invited to join the Reviewers database; good reviewers can be offered Editorial Board Membership or made International Advisors. It is quite likely that in some areas, the journal do not have qualified reviewers or their own reviewers are already too much over burdened, hence in such cases the authors can also be asked to suggest potential two to three reviewers for their study. However, it is essential that editor checks their credentials. It is up to the Editor to accept them and their Review should be scrutinized with great detail. Authorship is another challenge, try to follow the ICMJE criteria for authorship as far as possible and also ensure manuscript has individual author’s contribution. Some journal also need that DOI number should added in references and generate doi for all manuscripts accepted for publication for which one has to sign an agreement with the CrossRef/CrossCheck. Medline and Science Citation Index Expanded (SCIE) known for Impact Factor are the only two recognized indexes; all other including PubMed Central are databases. Ideally all manuscripts whether original articles, Reviews, Case Reports, Meta Analysis, Systemic reviews, clinical case series, CME, Letters should  get credit but it all depends on the policy adopted by the regulatory bodies in different countries.

Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid Chief Editor of Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences and Secretary EMAME
conducted a two day training course/workshop for Editors/Editorial Board Members of Isra Medical
Journal at Al-Nafees Medical College Hospital Isra University Campus Islamabad on March 8-9th 2018.
Group photograph taken on the occasion shows the workshop participant’s alongwith the Facilitator and Prof. Umar Ali Khan Pro
VC/Principal of Al-Nafees Medical College.

Open Journal System and other similar manuscript handling programmes offer lot of ease in processing of manuscripts and publication. An editor must keep himself/herself update with latest developments in the field of medical journalism. Must be experienced enough to handle issues of scientific misconduct, know how to retract papers if need be. Training of editorial support staff is also important. In short, editing a Journal is not a part time job, it needs full time personnel who can of course be helped, guided and monitored by the Chief Editor. It is a team work in which the editorial board members, Reviewers and support staff all play an important role.

Editor of Isra Medical Journal and Editorial Board Members shared the problems difficulties they face and their possible solutions were also discussed remaining within their resources. Those who participated in the training course included the following:

  1. Prof. Umar Ali Khan
  2. Prof. Ishtiaq Ahmad
  3. Prof. Khadija Iqbal
  4. Prof.Salman Ahmad Tipu
  5. Prof. Jamalullah
  6. Dr.Ihtasham Chaudhry
  7. Dr.Humaira Zafar
  8. Dr.Jehanzeb Maqsood
  9. Dr.Zeeshan Ghani
  10. Dr.Zahid Iqbal
  11. Ms.Faiza Masood
  12. Ms.Amina Shah
  13. Prof. Ghulam Mustafa Lodhi
  14. Prof. Maliha Yunus
  15. Prof. Munazza Asad
  16. Dr.Irum Yasir
  17. Dr.Faisal Rasheed Khan
  18. Dr. Jaweria Faisal
  19. Dr. Ayisha Busharat
  20. Dr Mumtaz
  21. Dr. Naveed Babar
  22. Mr. Shahzad Inayat.
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