Publications are important for long term sustainability in academic career - Prof. Sultan Ayoub Meo


Publications are important for long term
sustainability in academic career -
Prof. Sultan Ayoub Meo
Pakistan needs to get more medical journals covered 
by Clarivate Analytics and get Impact Factor

LAHORE: Publications in good quality peer reviewed journals is extremely important these days to ensure long term sustainability in academic career. Pakistan needs to improve the standard of its journals and attract good quality research which will help in approval and coverage by Clarivate Analytics one of the most important indexing services known for Impact Factor. This was stated by Prof. Sultan Ayoub Meo Prof. of Physiology and a noted medical educationist. He was speaking on “Scientific Writing in Modern Era” at University of Health Sciences Lahore on July 17th 2019. The meeting was attended by the UHS faculty members besides postgraduates and editorial staff of Biomedica the official journal of UHS.

Continuing Prof. Sultan Ayoub Meo emphasized that whatever research one does, it must be published and efforts should be made to get it published in a good quality peer reviewed journal which has an impact. In the modern era publications has assumed a much greater importance which are essential to get research grants and funding from different agencies. It also helps in getting job being selected for faculty positions in academic institutions. Those who fail to get any funding for research normally also fail to get selected or earn further academic promotions. In future those who are not publishing will have no place in academic institutions, he remarked.

Prof. Sultan Ayoub Meo

Original research is the largest segment of papers published by reputed peer reviewed journals. Meta-analysis are also preferred. Reviews and Editorials, case reports and brief communications are also entertained. While planning any research project one must select the topic carefully, look at the resources needed and available, time required to complete the study, and be careful of the language. Use simple easy to understand English language with small sentences and paragraphs. Though we in Pakistan find many problems and language barriers, some other countries like China, Korea, Japan and Turkey have overcome this hurdle by providing all the requisite literature in their own languages. China now has fifty one medical journals with Impact Factor as against just three in Pakistan. The researchers need good mentors, facilities and institutional support which is just like watering the soil to create proper environment for the seeds to grow and provide fruits.

It is also important that one should select the journal before one starts writing the paper. Choose the right journal, look at its credibility, standing, Impact Factor, who are its readers, what about the peer review system it practices. Look at the various important indexing services and databases to find out if the journal you have selected is indexed and covered by those. One should also look at the time it takes from submission to publication of the manuscript, he added.

Global Standing of Universities

His other presentation on July 18th was on standing of various medical universities in the world ranking. It was sad to notice that none of the Pakistani Universities was included in the first five hundred universities in the Shanghai Ranking just released two weeks ago. In other ranking, Pakistan’s ranking was at much below 700 or so. Some of the universities which were able to get a place in these Rankings included Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad, National University of Science and Technology, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) Punjab University and Agriculture University of Faisalabad. In the medical field, Aga Khan University was included.

Prof. Sultan Ayoub Meo suggested that Pakistani universities must invite and have visiting faculty on its staff which could help them improve their academic standing besides helping in teaching and training. Regular faculty and students exchange programme, international collaboration in research, establishing linkage with the industry will be extremely helpful. During the discussion it was pointed out that Higher Education Commission of Pakistan does not recognize visiting faculty though it is highly cost effective and can go a long way in helping our educational institutions including medical universities.

Helping improve
the Biomedica

In the next session which was also attended by Prof. A.H. Nagi the founder Chief Editor of Biomedica which he later gifted to the University of Health Sciences besides other members of the Editorial Board of the Journal. The journal is now being shifted to Open Journal System, the website is under construction and the staff is being trained. Prof. Javed Akram the Vice Chancellor of University of Health Sciences who also graced the occasion with his presence paid rich tributes to Prof. A.H. Nagi the founder Chief Editor of Biomedica and said that we need his continuous patronage, help and assistance. Prof. Javed Akram has also provided a proper Editorial Office for the Journal, hiring of a Managing Editor and other support staff for the journal and other publications is underway. Prof. Saima Chaudhry, Dr. Nadia and their other colleagues are working hard to give a completely new shape to the journal.

Looking at the journal website, some old articles were analyzed and the deficiencies, drawbacks were highlighted. Members of the Editorial Board were told to ensure uniformity in structured abstracts, references, ensure to include ethics committee/IRB approval of the manuscripts accepted for publication, Instructions for authors should have comprehensive information and details about the publication policy, plagiarism policy, and Ethical approval, and how they manage scientific misconduct. Everything should be transparent. All these information, it was stated has been finalized and soon will be uploaded on the journal website.

They were also guided on the points which are looked at by the indexing agencies so that they can prepare the future issues accordingly. They have to be careful about the number of authors, do not encourage gift authorship, look at the quality of tables, illustrations they publish, page make-up needs lot of improvement. Make sure that the complete reference is published in the column and it does not split in next column or the next page. Ask the authors to provide individual contributorship and the Reference No. and date of Ethics Committee/IRB approval should be included in the Methods Section of the manuscript or at the end of discussion where acknowledgement, conflict of interest and funding details are provided. Ensure each manuscript has short running title. The main title should be interesting and short as it will ensure more citations. Follow ICMJE guidelines for Summary of Reviews. Finding good reviewers is an uphill task but one can gradually build a Reviewers Database. Different incentives can be provided to retain the good reviewers which were also discussed in detail.

Prof. Sultan Ayoub Meo pointed out that HEC has four hundred ten recognized journals which includes fifty seven in health sciences. We need to ensure that more biomedical journals from Pakistan get indexed in important databases and also earn Impact Factor which will enhance the image of Pakistan in the academic world. There are over thirty four thousand biomedical journals of which 12,298 are indexed by ISI Web of Sciences which are counted while calculating the Impact Factor.

Participating in the discussion Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid Chief Editor of Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences remarked that the authors should be careful and do not get trapped by fake Impact Factors promoted by predatory journals and predatory publishers. It includes Global Impact Factor, Universal Impact Factor, Current Impact Factor, and Cite Factor and so on. Impact Factor, he further stated is just One but not the only one criteria to judge the standard of a journal. Nature and Science the world renowned journals have the highest Impact Factor but they also have the highest retraction rates. There are many drawbacks and limitations of Impact Factor, its importance has been often challenged but it has so far not only survived but was thriving. Till such time that we have some other more accurate, reliable Scientometrics to evaluate the journals, Impact Factor will remain relevant and important, though at times it is given too much importance. Prof. Saira Afzal Editor Annals of King Edward Medical University was also present and shared her views on different issues.

Prof. A.H.Nagi also briefly addressed the participants and gave background of his interest in medical writing. He pointed out that while doing post graduation in UK his supervisor Professor was Chief Editor of British Journal of Pathology. He encouraged me to publish. He commended the efforts of Prof. Maj. Gen. Aslam former VC UHS for encouraging collaboration with Biomedica and Prof .I. A. Naveed improving the get up of the Journal. We have tried to do our best and now it is up to the new generation to take it forward and further improve the Journal, he remarked.