Workshops for Editors and Medical Writing at Rehman Medical Institute Peshawar


A collaborative effort by PAME, Health RAB and RMI

Workshops for Editors and Medical Writing 
at Rehman Medical Institute Peshawar

PESHAWAR: On an invitation from Rehman Medical Institute, Pakistan Association of Medical Editors in collaboration with Health RAB and RMI organized a workshop for Editors of RMI Medical Journals as well as an interactive workshop on Medical Writing at RMI on May 19th and 20th 2017. The facilitators included Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid Chief Editor, Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences who is also Secretary of Eastern Mediterranean Association of Medical Editors (EMAME), Prof. Akhtar Sherin Editor Khyber University Medical Journal from Kohat. Dr.  Iftikhar Qayum in charge of the Research Department at RMI and   Prof. Tariq Mufti Principal of Rehman Medical College also made significant contributions to the scientific deliberations.

Rehman Medical Institute, it may be mentioned here publishes two medical journals i.e. Journal of Rehman Medical Institute and Journal of Medial Students edited by Prof. Tariq Mufti. Research is included in the student’s curriculum and medical students from RMI have so far published thirty five scientific papers in different medical journals. The initiative for these workshops was taken by Prof. Tariq Mufti sometime ago but it could not materialize earlier due to various reasons. Addressing the participants of the Editors Workshop, Prof. Tariq Mufti said that the main objective was to share our knowledge and benefit from each other’s experience.

PAME in collaboration with Health RAB and RMI organized a workshop for Editors of Medical Journals at RMI on
May 19th 2017. Picture taken on the occasion shows Prof. Tariq Mufti Principal RMC, Facilitators Mr. Shaukat 
Ali Jawaid, Prof. Akhtar Sherin along with the participants and Dr. Iftikhar Qayum Director Research at RMI.

During the workshop it was emphasized that improving visibility of the journal will attract more submissions. The journal should have its Mission and Vision statement, ensure transparency and must have detailed comprehensive instructions for authors on its website. Journals which are short of manuscripts are not encouraged by databases and coverage of the journal contents by important databases is important.  For the success of a journal it is also important that it should have good manuscript management system, give timely feedback to the authors, and have effective peer review system. Young researchers, faculty members prove to be good reviewers as compared to the super stars who are too busy and have no time. It was also suggested that the journal contents should be evenly distributed throughout the year. There are different business models to generate funding which vary from journal to journal and something which is feasible and practical in developed countries may not be practical in resource constraint countries. Copy editors are quite helpful in improving the manuscripts looking at English, Grammar and they can also modify tables, illustrations etc. All manuscripts should be checked for plagiarism and one should know how to retract a paper if need be and follow professional ethics. Committee on Publication Ethics has prepared a number of flow charts which are very useful for the Editors. Inclusion of a few overseas members in the Editorial Board who are keen and interested to help improves the standing and credibility of the journal. Similarly variety in contents will also attract more readers and submissions. After a careful look and Evaluaiton of medical journals published by Rehman Medical Institute, it was pointed out that they must ensure uniformity in structured abstract, make some changes in the format, highlight the website on title page and ensure to have ISSN number both for print and electronic version.  Ensure author friendly policy and peer review should help the authors to revise and improve their manuscripts.

Dr. Iftikhar Qayum responded to various points raised by the facilitators and gave his own viewpoint on different issues. He agreed that uniformity in abstract should be ensured and there were some other useful suggestions which he said, they will try to implement from the net issue of their journals. He thanked the facilitators for sharing their knowledge and experience. He hoped that it would be an ongoing activity and they will have many more such workshops in the days to come.

Workshop on Medical Writing

During the workshop on Medical Writing the participants pointed out that they face difficulty in selecting a topic for research and writing, how to start was yet another hurdle. Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid in his presentation emphasized the importance of knowing and following the basic principles. Research should be done on indigenous problems and an effort should be made to find a solution. Interesting problem will result in interesting solution. One should involve the statistician from the very beginning and research study should always include a publication strategy because unless it has been published, it has not happened. Some other points which were highlighted during the interactive discussions included proper literature search, different types of medical writing, ICMJE criteria for authorship, common reasons for rejection of papers, how to select the correspondence author and how to revise the manuscript in the light of reviewers comments and suggestions, selection of the journal for submission of a manuscript, how to avoid getting trapped by predatory journals. The authors were further advised to use simple language, short sentences and convey one message per article and do it simply to convey the message effectively. Be mindful of the length of the manuscript, number of tables, illustrations and references which should be in line with the journal’s instructions. Study protocols must be approved by Ethics Committee or Institutional Review Board as all good quality peer reviewed journals demand Ethics Committee approval before processing the manuscripts for publication.

During the hands on activity, the participants were asked to write correct abbreviations of various journals and write structured abstract. It was meant to sensitize them about the importance of journal abbreviations which are used while writing references. Structured abstract usually covers information in four sub-headings like objective or background and objective, methods, results and appropriate key words. Single digit figures should be written in words and make sure that all references in the manuscript are in order i.e. 1, 2, 3 and so on and they also tally with the references list at the end of the manuscript. As per latest ICMJE guidelines one has to list upto six authors and then write et al. There are different software like Endnote etc., which help in writing the references but even then one has to carefully re-check the references to ensure that there are no mistakes. If the authors follow the journal guidelines, basic principles, it will minimize trauma to their manuscripts.

Prof. Akhtar Sherin made a presentation on how to write an original article. He discussed in detail which information has to come in which section i.e. Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion. Usually one should first write the Methods section he opined. While writing Discussion the easiest form was to start with highlighting  the findings from the study and then compare it with local, national and international studies. Inclusion of local references will enhance the quality of their manuscript. Similarities and differences both, he said, are important and if your results are different, try to find out its reasons. Always mention limitations of the study which will be looked at as your strength and not a weakness. Tables and illustrations should convey the message in standalone position and one should not need to read the text to know what you wish to convey. He also showed some examples of structured abstract, tables and illustrations. The title, he opined, should be stimulating which should attract the reader and it should also give ample information about the study and contents of the manuscript. The participants were also advised to develop a habit of reading which will improve their writing skills.

At the end of the workshop, the participants were asked to record their feedback on the Feedback Forms, evaluate the presentations, discussion, and give suggestions to improve the future workshop contents. They were particularly asked to identify the weaknesses if any besides highlighting the strength. A critical review of the Feed Back forms showed that the participants enjoyed this academic activity, wished that such workshops should be organized more frequently. There should be workshop on how to select a topic for research. Some of the participants felt that the duration of the workshop should be increased and there should be more Hands on activity. Small group discussions’ should be encouraged. Actual manuscripts and journals should be used with examples highlighting the deficiencies and how to rectify them. The contents were found very informative and involvement of more and more students was also suggested. Separate workshops should be organized for Editors, Reviewers. Some participants opined that it has cleared some of their misconceptions and they now know the basics which will help them in overcoming the inhibitions to writing.  One of the participants opined that since the participants were of different level, some juniors and others vey senior, it will be better if in future different workshops are organized for different category and level of participants. Simplicity in the presentations by the facilitators was also appreciated which helped them understand better. Improvement in time management was also suggested.

In the end Prof. Tariq Mufti thanked both the facilitators and hoped that the participants will benefit from these workshops and it will help improve the quality of their manuscripts. Mr.Shaukat Ali Jawaid thanked Prof. Tariq Mufti and Dr. Iftikhar Qayum for their valuable input and  excellent hospitality. He also thanked the RMI management for making all the logistic arrangements and PharmEvo Pharmaceuticals who through Health RAB had sponsored his travel to Peshawar for these workshops. He specially thanked Prof. Akhtar Sherin who, he said, has always participated in such workshops whenever he is invited. RMI, he suggested, should make use of the talented people available within their province for such activities while he himself will be too glad to come and participate whenever invited. He later presented a set of his books to Prof. Tariq Mufti for the RMI Library.