PAME asks for meaningful dialogue and in depth discussions with the “Experts” advising HEC regarding Health Science Journals

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Accreditation of Health Science Journals by HEC
PAME asks for meaningful dialogue and in
depth discussions with the “Experts” advising
HEC regarding Health Science Journals
Policies being pursued at present will lead to closure of
many biomedical journals being published by Medial
Institutions, Professional specialty organizations which
are struggling to improve their quality & standards
Researchers in Pakistan will suffer the most as they
will have to pay enormous publication charges to get their
research published in peer reviewed journals overseas

KARACHI: Pakistan Association of Medical Editors (PAME) has written a communication to the Chairman of Higher Education Commission, Government of Pakistan to instruct the concerned officials to have a meaningful dialogue and in depth discussion with the professional medical editors while finalizing any policy regarding health science journals. The letter which has been jointly signed by Editors of the three leading peer reviewed medical journals of Pakistan which enjoy an Impact Factor and are also covered by all the leading world databases like Web of Sciences, Scopus and PubMed Central i.e. Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences, Journal of Pakistan Medical Association and Journal of College of Physicians & Surgeons of Pakistan has also requested that the “Experts” who are advising the HEC regarding Health Science journals should also be called to these meetings because PAME feels that they have never published or edited any journal otherwise there would not have been so many anomalies and problems which were faced while filling up the On-line application Form for accreditation on the HEC website.

Firstly there was no provision for registration of Monthly and Bi-Monthly journals and one cannot proceed further unless you fill up this column. When this was pointed out to the HEC officials, the answer which was received from them through e mail was to stick to the Form requirements. When the editors insisted that how they can provide wrong information and urged them to redesign and revise the Form, after numerous calls and e mails, they agreed and rectified this mistake. Similarly there are many other columns, information asked for which is irrelevant for some journals and there is no provision to skip those. Copies of this communication addressed to the Chairman HEC has also been sent to the Federal Minister of Health, Information as well as Federal Health Secretary to put it on record so that no one has an excuse that these issues were never pointed out earlier.

It may be mentioned here that even if the HEC persists with its current policies, it will not affect much these three leading peer reviewed biomedical journals which enjoy global recognition but it will definitely lead to closure of many biomedical journals or retard their further growth and development which are published by various medical and dental colleges, medical universities and professional specialty organizations. Researchers from Pakistan will be affected the most as they will have to pay enormous fee as publication charges to get their research work published in standard peer reviewed journals published from overseas. The objective of the Government as well as various regulatory bodies like HEC should be to promote the research culture, provide incentives and facilities to local researchers, help Pakistani biomedical journals to get into Web of Sciences, Scopus, PubMed Central so that Pakistan’s contribution to world medical literature is enhanced and we have more and more Pakistani journals which attract good quality manuscripts from authors from overseas as well. However, the policies being pursued at present which could be either due to ignorance or un-intentionally without realizing its repercussions will not help achieve these objectives. HEC, it may be mentioned here has of course been providing some much needed financial grants to some journals which needs to be commended. However, it is much more important to initiate measures to develop the professional capacity of the editors and other editorial staff by organizing training courses relevant to their needs and requirements. For this it is essential that first of all HEC must try to know what are the problems being faced by the Pakistani biomedical journals only then an indigenous, cost effective solution can be found.

Pakistan Association of Medical Editors with its meager resources has been organizing workshops on Scientific Writing, Peer Review, Publication Ethics, and training courses for medical journal editors including how to install and use the Open Journal System for the last many years but still there is a lot more to do. More recently in collaboration with University of Health Sciences, it has organized a six months Certificate Course in Medical Editing and the first batch has just completed this course. Final assessment and Viva Exam was scheduled on March 16th which had to be postponed due to COVID19 and lockdown. It will be arranged soon and the second batch will also be inducted hopefully by July or August 2020. PAME has offered its expertise, help and assistance to the HEC, Pakistan Medical & Dental Council to promote the art of scientific writing, research culture and medical journal publishing because we feel it our duty and obligation to the healthcare professionals, researchers in Pakistan in particular and the people of Pakistan in general. PAME has also been discussing all these issues with its members, editors of biomedical journals published from Pakistan. The communication sent to Chairman HEC has been signed by Prof. Jamshed Akhtar President of PAME who is also Editor of JCPSP, Dr. Fatema Jawad Editor-in-Chief of JPMA and Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid Chief Editor of Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences.