57 OIC countries comprise one quarter of world population but they spend just 2.4% of world’s total expenditures on R&D- Reza Malekzadeh


 EMMJ6 Medical Journals Conference Proceedings-III

57 OIC countries comprise one quarter of world
population but they spend just 2.4% of world’s
total expenditures on R&D - Reza Malekzadeh

To build an innovative driven nation we need to educate our people
well, provide them enough resources and incentives to chase
their dreams, innovations will follow

SHIRAZ (IRAN):  Fifty seven countries of OIC comprise almost one quarter of the world population but they spend just 2.4% of world total expenditures on Research and Development. It also accounts for just 6% of world publications. This was stated by Dr. Reza Malekzadeh from Iran while speaking about the status of science production and innovations in the Middle East and North Africa Region- the challenges and perspective for the future.   He was one of the guest speakers at the EMMJ6 Medical Journals Conference held here from February 18-20, 2015. This session on Day-2 of the conference was chaired by .Prof. Roya Kelishadi along with Dr. Jamshed Akhtar.

Dr. Reza Malekzadeh

OIC, Dr. Malekzadeh said, has an ambitious vision to address this knowledge gap but considerable progress will be required to achieve this.  OIC also comprise of some of the richest and some of the poorest countries. There are considerable disparities in terms of scientific and technological output and development within the group. Some of these countries have now started making investment in R&D and it will have impact in future on their development. Some of the wealthiest countries in the OIC still have  low levels of R&D. Tunisia, Malaysia, Turkey and Iran spend a lot on R&D. Tunisia, Jordan, Turkey and Iran have the highest number  of researchers  as a proportion of their population. Turkey and Iran also publish nearly 50% of the OIC publications. Iran has also got the most patents. On an average OIC countries spend 0.46% of their GDP on R&D which represents a modest increase on 2003.

In higher education, Turkey was on top while there is an increase in Iran. We are not spending much on R&D and if we take into consideration inflation, actually there is no increase. Main driver behind any innovation process is Human Factor, Technology and Capital.  Human factor is the fundamental driver.  USA attracts the best people from all over the world and they do interventions. He was of the view that if we educate our people, they will change their dream. Iran has eighty million population and mostly young people, sixty thousand are enrolled in PhD programme and seventy thousand in medical science universities. Many talented people from China and India are migrating to USA and other developed countries. Majority of the people who make innovations in these countries are immigrants not natives. He made a passionate plea that science and technology needs to be supported at the highest level.  OIC countries should foster on equitable social development and high quality research. We should convince our policy makers to invest more in science. OIC has no data to guide their policy makers. Dr. Malekzadeh said the message was clear. In order to build an innovative driven nation we need to educate our people well, provide them enough resources and incentives to chase their dreams, innovations will follow. Iran, he disclosed was the 5th country of origin of migrant inventors in USA. We need more investment in R&D and we also need to protect the creative output of our scientists. Regional journals can play a role in robust peer review systems, merit-based academic career structure, incentives which encourage the commercialization of research. Research evaluation programme should be established and supported across the OIC to ensure that further investment leads to research excellence, Dr. Malekzadeh added.


Prof. Roya Kelishadi from Iran along with Dr. Jamshed Akhtar from Pakistan
chairing one of the sessions during the EMMJ6 Medical Journals conference
held at Shiraz in February 2015.

 Dr. Mohammad Reza Ghani along with Jihane Tawillah chaired the afternoon session on February 8th the first day of the EMMJ6 Medial Journals conference held here from February 18-20, 2015.  Dr.Wilfred Peh from Singapore was the first speaker who highlighted the activities of Asia Pacific Association of Medical Editors (APAME). The idea, he said, was conceived during a meeting of WPRIM in Seoul during November 27-28, 2007 and APAME was established at a meeting held at Seoul Korea on May 4-5th 2008. APAME represents 48 countries and upto January 31, 2015 it had one hundred ninety members. We welcome members from other regions as well, he added.

Giving details about the establishments  of other associations in the region, he said,  Korean  Association of Medical  Journal Editors (KAMJE) was established  in  1996, Malaysian Association of Medial Journal Editors (MAMJE) in 2008,  Japanese Association of Medical Journal Editors (JAMJE) in 2008, Mangolian Association of Medical Journal Editors  (MAMJE) in 2008, Singapore Association of Medical Journals Editors (SAMJE) in  2010. We always try to be inclusive and elect our office bearers of APAME by consensus. WPRIM is a database of the region, he stated.

Dr. Mohammad Hatem from WHO EMRO gave details about the medical journals published from the Region and said their number was  seventy in 1987 which at present has increased to 598. He also pointed out that not all the journals published in the region are received by WHO and at present IMEMR has 1,53,000 bibliographic citations from the region. There are twenty two countries in this region. Talking about the selection criteria of journals in IMEMR he mentioned peer review, those covering major languages like English, Arabic, French, Farsi and Urdu. English abstract, he said, is mandatory.  Egypt is No. 1 followed by Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia as regards the number of manuscripts covered from the region in IMEMR. At present 36% journals covered in IMEMR are from Iran, 24% from Egypt, 13% from Pakistan, Iraq 5% and Saudi Arabia 5%. Out of the total 598 journals at present covered in IMEMR 60% are online which includes 207 are from Iran, 67 from Pakistan, 62 from Egypt, and 25 from Saudi Arabia. Of the 598 journals, one hundred fifty five journals are covered by PubMed which is about 26% of the journals published from this region, he added.

Dr. Ahmed Mandil from Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal reviewed the journal’s progress from 1955-2014. WHO, he said, gives research grants in priority areas of public health.  We have received thirty one proposals for improving programme implementation through embedded research which are currently under review. From 1995 to 2014, a total of 2704 articles were published in EMHJ.  There were about five authors per article on an average. If one looks at the country of first author, Iran is No.1 and Pakistan comes at NO.5 as regards the published articles. The least number of articles were published in the subject of emergency preparedness and risks. We need to increase it as we have lot of problems in the region. He also gave details regarding the number of articles published in EMHJ on communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases. About 38% of the studies published had ethics committee approval and another 15.2% had partial approval.

He concluded his presentation by stating that during the past twenty years, half the manuscripts published in EMHJ came from four countries i.e. Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. This calls for further study why other eighteen countries are less represented and how to encourage greater contributions from them. While there were almost equal publications on CD, NCD, HSD, and MCHN (22-26%) more work is needed in the vital field of emergency medicine. EMHJ has to seek prior ethical clearance for research on human subjects as a pre-requisite for considering articles for publication.

During the discussion it was pointed out that authors are reluctant to publish reports on emergency while it is also a cultural issue.  It was also stated that manuscripts on emergency medicine are being published in many other journals in the region as well apart from the EMHJ.

Workshop on Scientometrics

In the afternoon Dr. Payam Kabiri from TUMS conducted a workshop on Scientometrics and Altmetrics: Tools for improve and increasing journals visibility and Impact. Impact Factor, Payam Kabiri said was the first and the best Scientometrics. However, two year’s window period, he opined, was too short. Secondly IF is also heavily dependent on research field. IF is released during June-July each year. Speaking about citation half life, he said that after some time citations starts decreasing. Citations of Reviews are much better than letters.  Citation curve for original papers is more stable. Scopus appeared in 2009 while Elsevieris the second important database. Google Scholar is a new interesting challenger. ISI Thompson/Reuter covers about ten thousand journals while Scopus has thirty thousand journals. Google Scholar has better coverage as it takes data from websites. Most of the researchers use SCOPUS and ISI Thompson for presentations. We also use Google Scholar but Google Scholar cited contents are 2-5 times more. More citations do not mean good quality of research. For example a method is introduced by someone, authors will give his reference and the one who had described that method will continue to get more citations. One should look at the source of citations. For journal evaluation one should look at preference and functions, website, quality, quality of papers published, citations and impact. Reliability and reproducibility is the cornerstone of good indices.

On the other hand, h-Index, Payam Kabiri said takes into account quantity as well as quality of papers. H-Index is median not affected by high number of publications or high number of citations. If all papers get high citation, it improves the h-Index. He then described how to calculate-Index using all the data bases. Retrieved papers also continue to get citations which are not a good activity reflecting current status of the journal. New sciences, new journals, new developments cannot be measured by h-index. Citations take time, atleast five years are needed to get citations. Hence always consider impact of the journal as well not citation alone. SCI mago journal rank considers the prestige of the journal as well. He also talked about SNIP i.e., source normalized impact per paper.

Talking about the social media, he referred to Altmetrics, web of science networking downloads, and view, tweets, blogs and all these have an impact on the society.  ALTMETRICS, he clarified, is not academics. Downloads and citations are different. All downloads are not cited. Facilitator in the other workshop on Sustainable bilingual Publications was Mary Ellen Kerans from Spain.

Dr.  Peush Sahni from India spoke about predatory journals. Most of these journals, he said,  are waiting for you to submit your manuscripts. Peer review is at the heart of science. Communication has become very fast through internet and e journals. Open access offers the advantages of ease of communication, ease of access and decreased cost. Standards remain the same as per print journals i.e.  Submission, peer review and publication. He emphasized the importance of trust, honesty and integrity in scientific publishing. Predatory journals publish all submissions and often inform about the charges after acceptance. Most do not have a peer review system. Even some of them do take money and then do not publish these journals, do not provide any editorial and publishing services, they try to catch unsuspecting and susceptible researchers. These are the journals which are interested in making money. Some open access journals are very strong, have proper peer review system. Predatory journals are smarter, have better websites, appoint guest editors and involve people by making them members of the Editorial Board.

Ms Jane Nicholson chaired the next session. Karen Shashok from Spain described how to distinguish between legitimate and predatory Open Access Journals. She opined that there are quality and ethical issues not only with open access journals but also with print journals as well. Those who criticize the open access journals are mostly major publishers. It is either the author or the reader who pays to ensure open access. Open Access journal not always ask for authors fees. Paid by authors is known as Golden Open Access and paid by reader is known as Green open access journals.  Final version of some papers is immediately available if authors have paid manuscript processing fee and it is known as Hybird model. Journals are both good and bad.  She highlighted the importance of transparency and accountability and also referred to the Beal’s list of predatory journals.  Those open access journals which are covered either by Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) or are in the Web of Sciences or visible on PubMed maintain their standards and quality. Ideally the journal should identify owners, publishers, editors, editorial board members, should inform location and provide contact information. It should also provide information regarding peer review policy, ethics policy besides giving details about the appeal process.

Payam Kabiri in his next presentation talked about quantity and quality of journals published from the Eastern Mediterranean Region. His presentation was based on a survey of published papers in Scopus till 2014. SCOPUS, he said, was an excellent database for physical and biological sciences and has better international coverage. It includes more of Health and Life sciences contents than other databases. He then displayed the list of top ten journals from the region and five of these were from Pakistan i.e. JPMA, JCPSP, Journal of Ayub Medical College, Pakistan Journal of Nutrition and Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences. Scopus has 91 journals from Iran, 71 from Pakistan, 82 from Egypt and fifteen from Saudi Arabia. His conclusions were that only 2.8% of 10,067 indexed Health and Life Science journals in Scopus belong to Eastern Mediterranean Region.

Dr. Ali Akbar Sari talked about quantity and quality of Iranian Medial Journals.  Total number of journals published from Iran he said were 1384 of which 137 are in Scopus and 37 are covered in ISI. The number of medical journals published from Iran was ninety in 2005 which increased to 347 in 2015. Of these medical journals, 72 are visible on PubMed, PubMed Central, and Medline while twenty are covered in ISI.  All practice peer review, are open access, 95% have English abstracts.  One hundred eighty six journals have full text in English, about twenty thousand papers are published by these journals every year and 10% suffer from delayed publication. These journals are published mainly by universities, research centers, professional societies and institutions. Commission for Iranian Medical Journals is based at Ministry of Health and it has nine sub-committee including committee on ethics, technical, websites and biostatistics. The commission controls birth of new journals, helps the journals to improve their quality by providing financial, technical support,  training programmes, facilitating in indexing and provision of software’s. The challenges these journals are facing are lack of quality manuscripts, authors usually send their best papers overseas, delay in peer review and lack of professional publishes. Government and national bodies, Ali Akbari Sari stated are playing a positive role providing  advice and technical  support to medical journals and these challenges need solutions.

In the next session Dr. Behrooz Astaneh spoke about metrics of journal quality.  Review articles he said are highly cited and they inflate the Impact Factor.  Self Citations is also used to increase impact factor. Citations to retracted articles are also counted in the Impact Factor. Similarly negative citations also increase IF while different databases have different coverage. Hence, we need to have some measure to rank journals and quality of research, he added.

Prof. Roya Kelishadi from Iran spoke about evaluation of Iranian Medical Journals.  The request to start a new journal, she said, usually comes from an institution or organization.  Then we look for the need and assessment of a new journal and take into account the number of faculty members and students it will serve. We also look at the possibility if it will attract good quality manuscripts in case there are many other journals in the same topic. Then we decide with voting and if approved, they are asked to publish first issue online. It is then evaluated by different committee’s i.e.  Ethical, statistical, technical, specialty. We also look at journal website and online management. Annual ranking of the journals, she said, is based on national and international indexing, regular publication, and technical details besides the type of manuscripts published.

Dr. Jamshed Akhtar from Pakistan talked about the need for launching a new journal from Pakistan’s perspective.  It is the PM&DC which, Dr.Jamshed Akhtar said, recognized the journals in Pakistan while declaration to publish is given by the Information Department of provincial government. Recently there has been a mushroom growth of biomedical journals in Pakistan. PakMedinet database and the website of the journals were assessed for this study. The study looked at the specialty, frequency of publication, number of original articles per issue and regularity. A total of 69 journals are recognized by PM&DC. These include two monthly, two bimonthly.  Thirty four journals were selected for analysis. JPMA published 34 original articles, JCPSP 23, PJMS 41, and PMJ 22. The quarterly journals published   JAMC 128 and JPMI 62. University journals JLUMHS published eight articles, JDUHS 16 articles, AKEMU 27 in two issues and Isra University Med J Quarterly 47 articles. He also gave the number of original articles published by specialty organization owned journals. His conclusions were that keeping in view the present number of articles, and there was no need to have new journals. He suggested merging the specialty journals, merging regional Associaton journals like EMR Journal of Oncology, EMR Journal of Surgical specialties and EMJR Paediatrics.

Dr. Farrokh Habibzadeh from Iran spoke about birth control for journals. Faculty members he said are under pressure to publish for their academic promotions and that is how this problem arises. Almost 450 medical journals are now published from Iran and it is high time that we look at how to stop this mushroom growth of these journals. We should prefer quality over quantity. Selection of papers should be more rigorous. During the discussion Dr. Ali Akbari Sari said that we must go for quality. We need a metrics to sort out these issues. In the Medical Journals Commission we now have some criteria for evaluation of the journals. Dr. Farrokh Habibzadeh suggested changing the rules for faculty members for their promotion adding other yardsticks rather than publications alone.

During the panel discussion on predatory, open access journals it was stated that we should avoid dodgy journals. Look for people who have published in these journals. What is the response and how did you get this response. Predatory journals steal money. Hence one should use wisdom and brain before submitting manuscript to these journals.

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