Professional approach, transparency in working and team work will ensure improvement and sustainability of medical journals

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Training Course for Editors on Medical Journal Publishing at UHS Lahore

Professional approach, transparency in working
and team work will ensure improvement and
sustainability of medical journals

Medical Editors must keep themselves abreast of latest developments
in scientific publishing and implement them gradually keeping in
view their financial and human resources - Shaukat Ali Jawaid

LAHORE: Pakistan Association of Medical Editors (PAME) in collaboration with Eastern Mediterranean Association of Medical Editors (EMAME) organized a day long training course for editors in medical journal publishing at University of Health Sciences (UHS) Lahore on April 25th 2013. It was attended by about fifty editors and senior faculty members from the affiliated medical colleges of UHS including some Principals of medical colleges. Some of the participants were nominated by their respective medical colleges as they plan to start their own journals shortly.
Dr. Maqbool H. Jafary President of EMAME and Dr. Akhtar Sherin President of PAME from Kohat Institute of Medical Sciences, Khyber PK province also graced the occasion with their presence and contributed to the scientific deliberations. Prof. Major Gen. (Retd) Mohammad Aslam Vice Chancellor of UHS, Prof.Junaid Sarfaraz Khan and their team played a very important role in organizing this academic activity. The personal keen interest of the VC UHS Prof. Mohammad Aslam in organizing this course was commended by all the participants who hoped that form now onward UHS will become a hub of academic activities in the field of medical journalism and scientific publishing. Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid Managing Editor of Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences who is also Secretary General of EMAME was the course facilitator who was assisted by Dr. Akhtar Sherin President of PAME.

Pakistan Association of Medical Editors (PAME) in collaboration with Eastern Mediterranean
Association of Medical Editors (EMAME) organized a training course for Editors on Medical
Journal Publishing at University of Health Sciences Lahore on April 25th 2013. Group photograph
taken on this occasion shows the participants along with Dr. Maqbool H.Jafary, President EMAME,
Dr. Akhtar Sherin President PAME, Mr.Shaukat Ali Jawaid Secretary General EMAME and
Prof.Major Gen. M.Aslam VC UHS.

Addressing the course participants Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid said that if they adopt professional approach, transparency in their working and have team work, it will go a long way in ensuring improvement and sustainability of their journals in the long run. He further advised them that they must keep themselves abreast of latest developments in scientific publishing and start implementing them gradually as their financial and human resources permit. However, they must ensure that whatever new measures they taken, they must be sustainable. The participants were provided a specially prepared Training Manual/Exercise Book which has been revised based on the input from the previous courses and they were encouraged to actively participate in the interactive discussion.
Discussing the overall journal environment, it was pointed out that now after USA; China is the biggest contributor to the medical literature. There have been tremendous developments in the field of medical journalism in many Muslim countries. Islamic Republic of Iran in particular. Iran has forty five medical universities and they publish over four hundred biomedical journals. The universities not only provide training facilities to the faculty members but also give incentives to publish in peer reviewed biomedical journals which have Impact Factor and are covered by Medline or Web of Sciences.
Every Journal, it was stated must have a Vision by the Editor who then tries to accomplish it with the help of aims and objectives. Try to identify the problems you face and then plan to solve them one by one. It is important that you know your strength and weaknesses and then efforts should be made to avail the opportunities available. Authorship issues were discussed in detail and the participants were asked to give their opinion in different scenarios how they will take a decision. Working of the editorial team was also discussed in detail. It was pointed out that while the editors enjoy some privileges they have certain responsibilities and duties as well. The Editors must ensure timely communication with the authors and reviewers. It is extremely important that every journal must have a proper office with minimum staff. Most of the Editors are busy clinicians, while they themselves cannot look after each and every detail, they must train people who can be delegated various duties and thus make a team to achieve best results.

Editor’s Triage: Discussing the concept of Editor’s triage it was stated that do not keep the authors waiting and then convey them the rejection of their manuscript after couple of months. They must practice Editor’ Triage identify and select those manuscripts which they find useful keeping in view their readership while authors of other manuscripts should be communicated the decision that their manuscripts cannot be processed further so that they can submit it to other journals. Editors have to face numerous pressures but the authors, it was emphasized, was the most dangerous pressure group which wants their manuscripts to be published immediately after submission without realizing that peer review takes some time and there is no short cut. Every Editor has to maintain standard of their journal and attract quality manuscripts.

Peer Review Systems: Different types of Peer Review Systems being practiced were also discussed i.e. single blind, double blind and open peer review system. Most of the participants were quite uncomfortable with the open peer review system and they felt that it was not possible to practice it in view of professional jealousy and reviewers might try to harm the authors. Mr.Shaukat Ali Jawaid pointed out that there has been lot of research on Peer Review and numerous studies have been published in leading world medical journals. Open Peer Review system in which both the author and reviewer knows each other is considered the best as it improves the quality of review. However, it is not essential that they practice Open Peer Review System. They can practice any peer review system they find comfortable. However, they must know all this. We in Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences attract manuscripts from forty one countries mostly from Asia Pacific Region and started practicing Open Peer Review since 2008 and have had no problem so far. Only four times we received requests from the reviewer not to disclose their identity and it was accepted. In some cases, editors can ask authors to suggest the name of reviewers if they do not have any suitable reviewer and there was nothing wrong with it. But final decision lies with the Editor to accept any such suggestion as well as reviewer’s comments because eventually it is the Editor who is responsible to maintain the standard and safeguard the professional intellectual integrity. How to create Reviewr’s data base and reward, retain good reviewers were also highlighted.

Plagiarism is a serious crime and Editors should not have any soft corner for those who indulge in this scientific misconduct. Various software’s are now available to detect plagiarism and efforts should be made to screen all manuscripts before they are processed. Some of these software’s are available free on the internet while for others one has to subscribe this service. In Iran the government has provided these software’s to all the medical universities and medical journals. In Pakistan Higher Education Commission should be persuaded to help the journals in this regard because financially it was not possible for individual journals to afford these software’s.

Contents of a Journal: The participants were encouraged to have a large variety of contents which will ensure more interest and greater readership of their journals. You must have Online Edition of your journals as well and improve visibility of your journal which will in return result in increased submissions. Then one can select the quality manuscripts. Book Reviews and Case Reports are also very important. Similarly Obituary Notes, Issues for Debate, Quiz, CME, Conference Reports etc., were also important and one should not concentrate on original articles and Reviews alone. The participants were informed how to handle publication misconduct. It was pointed out that Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) has developed various Flow Charts which are freely available on COPE website and they are quite useful. Various ethical dilemmas were also discussed. It was emphasized that ask the authors to provide approval of Ethical Committees, Institutional Review Boards of their study and if no EC exists in their institution, they can get it approved from EC in other institutions. However, even if it was not possible, ask the authors to provide a certificate that the study they wish to get published was conducted at their institution. It will help to check any scientific fraud which can have serious consequences. Provide opportunity to the readers to comment on published material in correspondence section and when pointed out any manuscript which has been plagiarized, could not be detected earlier and got published must be withdrawn, removed from the journal website besides publishing an Erratum. All this adds to the credibility of the journal.

Electronic Publishing: Journal management policies, how the authors evaluate various journals and electronic publishing were also discussed in detail during the course. Dr Akhtar Sherin pointed out that in future HEC will require that every journal has its website and arrangements for online web based submissions. For this one needs to adopt some system. Open Journal System is one such modality which increases automation and is quite user friendly. It is freely available on the net and can also be modified. However, to maintain this one needs experienced computer operators and support of information technology experts and all this will cost money. Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences, Mr.Shaukat Ali Jawaid said is powered with E journal system which is a modified format of Open Journal System operated by Medical Writers in Pakistan. It has offered this service to quite a few other journals as well. Digital Object Identified (DOI) can be acquired after making an agreement with CrossRef an international database from USA. One has to pay for acquiring this service but it offers many advantages. Once a manuscript is published with DOI, it is accessible on the net and remains in this database for ever. It can be accessed on the net even if the journal website is not working or the journal has ceased publication. That is why authors prefer journals with DOI and most of the world famous reputed journals have agreement with CrossRef and issue DOI. Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences was the First medical journal from Pakistan to acquire this service in January 2013 and we can provide the details to other journals who wish. However, they must be mindful of the fact that one has to pay US$ 750/- for getting registered and then one US$ for each DOI generated. These are the charges at present which could be revised in future.
The course participants were also introduced to various Associations of Medical Editors functioning in various countries. They were also provided a COPE document as to how they should respond to Plagiarism. They were also informed how they can evaluate their journals by doing an evaluation exercise which will identify some of their deficiencies which they can then remove. We in PAME and EMAME feel it our duty to share our knowledge and experience in scientific publishing and organization of such courses was a part of our duty, Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid concluded.
At the end of the course the participants were asked to give their frank and constructive comments. Most of them appreciated the contents of the course, were delighted with the time management. It was quite informative and will help them in better management of their journals in the light of today’s discussion. Some felt that it could have been extended to two days so that one does not have to rush through to make it more useful. They also felt that such training workshops should be organized regularly. Prof.Junaid Sarfaraz Khan Professor of Medical Education at UHS who played a vital role in the organization thanked everyone at UHS who helped in making this course successful besides thanking the course facilitators and VC UHS Prof. Major General Aslam in particular under whose guidance this course was organized. Later the course participants were presented certificates by Prof. Maj. Gen. Mohammad Aslam Vice Chancellor of UHS.
Earlier in the brief inaugural session Prof. Major Gen. M. Aslam presented mementoes to Dr. Maqbool H.Jafary President EMAME, Dr.Akhtar Sherin President PAME and Mr. Jamshed Ahmad Chief Operating Officer of PharmEvo in appreciation of PharmEvo’s continued support to PAME in its academic activities.

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