Editor is just like Capitan of the Ship who should learn how to manage the challenges - Dr. Rod Rohrich


 Workshop for Editors at WAME Conference at New Delhi

Editor is just like Capitan of the Ship who
should learn how to manage the
challenges - Dr. Rod Rohrich

Indexing is a reflection of success and not means
to achieve success - Duncan MacRae

Editors should help the authors to improve their manuscripts

From Shaukat Ali Jawaid
and Dr. Akhtar Sherin

NEW DELHI (INDIA): One of the pre-conference workshops during the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) conference held here at New Delhi India from October 1-4th was on the Role of the Editors. Moderator for this workshop was Dr. Rod J. Rohrich Editor-in-Chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and PRS Global Open from United States. Other facilitators/speakers included Aaron Weinstein Managing Editor of PRS, Anita Jan Editor India BMJ, Ian Burgees Group Publisher, Medical and Open Access Publishing from Wolters Kluwer Health, UK, Duncan MacRae Senior Manager, Open Access, Editorial, Health Learning, Research and Practice, Dheeraj Shah Editor of Indian Paediatrics and Abraham Haileamlak Editor Ethiopian Journal of Health Sciences from Ethiopia.

Dr. Rod J. Rohrich Editor-in-Chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and PRS Global Open
from United States conducting the workshop for Medical Editors on October 1, 2015 prior
to WAME conference held at New Delhi from October 2-4, 2015.

Dr. Rod Rohrich who initiated the discussion pointed out that the role of the Editor is just like Capitan of the Ship. He should learn how to manage the challenges. Editors are often applauded and fired as well.  We need to discuss how to reduce the unpleasant happenings. It is the editor’s responsibility to contact everyone concerned. An editor is known as a Gate Keeper, a manager, authority, leader, and teacher. He must make sure that all the staff in the journal knows their job and he should know how to use the staff. The journal is your baby. Make sure it works well. Be a leader in your specialty, experts in evidence based research. We as editors do lot of teaching.  He then showed good and bad examples of reviews received from the reviewers. Always try to help the authors to improve their manuscripts, follow an open and transparent policy.

Continuing Dr. Rod Rohrich said that Editors are responsible to authors, reviewers, and owners, public. We as editors respect the society and they have to respect us. Editors have to protect the patients. Editors, he further stated, should address Health Policy, Public Health issues. Journals can help change health policy issues in their respective specialty. One of the participants from India pointed out that often the editors of professional specialty organizations are politically motivated. Dr.Rod remarked that the person who is elected as Editor should be a respectable person in the society, profession and specialty.

Dr. Aaron Weinstein was the next speaker who said that in view of the large number of manuscripts being received at Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (PRS) we had a high rejection rate though many of these papers were excellent. Hence, we felt that a new outlet was needed. So we started the PRS Global Open. It has a growing submissions, has built its readership, ensures rapid publication time and it also has a broad based editorial board. Open Access Journals, he pointed out, was the way for the future. However, at present there is lot of resistance to open access in North America. In case you wish to start a new journal, think what is your mission? Will it be financially viable?  Why what you intend to publish is not covered by other journals? He laid emphasis on the fact that Open Access and Predatory Journals should not be confused. Open Access credible journals should be promoted.

Photographed durning the WAME Conference held at New Delhi from
(L to R) are Prof. M.B. Rokni from Iran, Mr. Tom Lang from USA,
Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid and Dr. Akhter Sherin from Pakistan.

There are different business models. Open Access journals are also peer reviewed. However, Open Access is different in different countries. Every journal has to follow some business model. NIH has a policy that publication from every project it funds should be published in open access journals. You need to market your journal and strategic plans help in the success of a journal. Be open to what you are reading in the Mission statement. Don’t be rigid otherwise you will fail. Open Access has done a great deal. Authors have been able to publish having global readership. Most Open Access ethical journals will do it. One can have Print or Online Journals and now there are digital journals as well available on Apple, Android, Tablet and Phone etc. He also referred to the Equator Network Research Reporting Guidelines and said the Editors should prepare checklist for the authors. Make the authors as the best Ambassadors. Speaking about the Sunshine Act of United States, he said that physicians are bound to ensure financial transparency report. It is important that every journal develops a Conflict of Interest policy.

In the next session issues related to staffing came under discussion. What kind of a staff is needed for a journal? What should be their number and what should be their role? Reporting and responsibilities of the staff should be clearly outlined. Whether the journal is owned by the society or public, profit is a must for sustainability. Anita Jain pointed out that the editorial staff could include Chief Editor, Managing Editor, Peer Review coordinator, Editorial Assistants, Editor responsible for Graphics to ensure that the articles are processed properly. It is often said in United States that customer is always right but it was not the case with authors. We will help them improve, correct tables, graphics. Share the comments of rejected articles. However, in small journals you do not need individual person to perform the above roles as one person can perform more than one role. It is important that the journal ensures good manuscript management system and Good online systems do provide this facility.

Another important issue is how to establish an Editorial Board. You need Mission statement and a Business Plan and how to ensure sustainability. He suggested that the Editors should always select Editorial Board members whom they trust. Those who will do a good job. There can be Editors for various sections. These should be leaders who are well respected. Let them do their job. Editorial Board is the Key and it is all voluntary. They help in accepting or rejection of papers. Editing a journal is a thankless job. Some enjoy doing Peer Review. Now there is lot of commercialization in medical publishing but they should not abuse the Editor. One of the participants pointed out that now some predatory journals have come up and they want cheap editors, reviewers. International representation in the Editorial Board is good thing but remember big names do not impress. Editorial Board members drawn from various countries with diversity in location is desirable. Generally it is said that at least 25% of Editorial Board members should be from overseas. It was also stated that some institutional journals publish articles from their own institution. Big names have no time. They cannot do critical analysis. One can ask them to name reviewers. Mid-level people are good rather than the so called superstars. There is no harm in publishing articles in your own journal if they go through the proper peer review. Somebody might question it. An Editor should be able to monitor the Editorial Board Members. The number of Editorial Board will also depend on the number of submissions. Peer Reviewers are Engine that keeps peer reviewers, authors, journals monitoring. There are area experts who also often work as volunteers. An editor should educate the reviewers and provide them a checklist as a guide for reviewing the manuscripts. CME articles are not original and then there are some innovations which are covered in a separate section in the Journal. Responding to a question regarding Open Peer Review System, Anita Jain said that it was going down as the Editors do not want to expose the reviewers to threats or get harm. The editor has to take all the blame.


Photographed during the WAME conference held at New Delhi India
from October 1-4th from (L to R) are Dr. M. Irfan, Mr. Shaukat Ali
Jawaid, Prof. Farhad Handjani President EMAME, Dr. Fatema Jawad,
Dr. Fouzia Gul, and Dr. Akhtar Sherin

Duncan MacRae talked about indexing strategies and quality of peer review system. It was stated that high quality manuscripts get increased citations. At present Scopus covers 21,000 journals, SCIE (Thompson Reuters ISI) covers 6,500 journals; Medline covers 5,500 journals while PubMed Central covers four thousand journals. Currently PubMed has a rejection rate of 75%, SCIE Thompson Reuters ISI has a rejection rate of 90%, and Medline has a rejection rate of 90% while PubMed Central has a rejection rate of 60%. Scopus has a rejection rate of 75%. Now indexing services are strict. In the past it was easier to get indexed and included. We can help in preparing the applications but we cannot help bad journals get indexed, Duncan MacRae remarked. You have to be honest about your journals.

In order to get indexed the Editors must ensure that there is a scope for that journal, good quality of contents, quality of editorial work. Ensure timeliness and there should be no delay in publication dates or interruption in publication schedule. Make sure that the published work is evenly distributed throughout the year and not at the end of the Year. Journals which are struggling for contents are not welcomed by the indexing agencies. Peer Review has good impact in indexing process. Council of Science Editors has published a Statement in 2012 which is a best guide on Indexing. Make sure to publish retraction if need be, notices, errata and also ensure that your policies are in line with the established policies of Committee on Publication Ethics. Indexing is a reflection of success, it is not means to achieve success. Indexing in a data base is the quality of contents of the journal. There are many useful resources for the Editors which include websites of WAME, COPE and ICMJE. Ensure to add value to the contents of the journal. Coverage in various important databases has many advantages. SCIE has now started eSCIE which stands for emerging Science Citation Index Expanded. Perhaps they will now first index new applicants in the eSCIE. Indexing, Duncan MacRae further stated is not always fair.

Gauging Growth and Success

Indexing, Impact Factor and number of submissions are some of the yardsticks to gauge the growth and success of a journal. Other important features are rejection rate, review and publication time, reach, usage. Impact Factor is also sometimes manipulated by the journals. Editors and reviewers ask the authors to quote and cite the papers published in their journal which is unethical. One should report such editors to their respective institutions. One can also appeal to ISI. DORA declaration also came under discussion which states that Impact Factor should not be taken into consideration for research grants, funding, and faculty recruitment. They maintain that it should not be the number of papers but the value of person to the institution, faculty and his ability. Academic misconduct, ethical issues, legal, ethical and editorial issues,  public facing policies, protecting the authors, Editors, having a transparent execution of policy, plagiarism, fabrication, falsification, bioethics, clinical trials and COPE guidelines also came under discussion.

In the afternoon session Dheeraj Shah Editor of Indian Paediatrics talked about the maximum number of authors. He pointed out that they accept up to three authors for case reports, five for review articles and five for original articles. No change in sequence of authors, addition or deletion of authors is allowed once the manuscript is submitted. We have good cordial relations between the Chief Editor and the Society which owns the journal.

Dr. Abraham Haileamlak gave a developing country perspective and highlighted the problems faced in using Open Journal System for reviewing the manuscripts. Authors find it difficult to make submissions on the journal websites and it will take some time before the authors get used to it. Funding and acquiring Online Manuscript Management Systems are some other problems. He was of the view that the Government policies should be aligned to that. Chinese Government has made a concerted effort to promote scientific research and academics. The result is a large number of publications coming from China. He pointed out that it takes years to change the system. One of the participants pointed out that Sri Lankan authors prefer to submit their manuscripts to overseas journals. Indian authors also cite American journals and authors. The clinical trials are cost effective in India; hence a large number of clinical trials are being conducted in India. It needs a long term commitment by the Government and China has showed the way. China has made lot of investment. They have replicated some of the work which has already been published.

During the discussion it was also highlighted that US Healthcare System is now changing. Now US authors are writing less and less and medical journals published from United States are getting more and more articles from overseas. Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid from Pakistan pointed out that change in policy of Pakistan Medical & Dental Council and Higher Education Commission of Pakistan has had some positive effect. However, the authors are not trained in the art of medical writing, peer review and medical journal publishing. Pakistan Association of Medical Editors (PAME) has taken up the training of healthcare professionals and was organizing workshops on Medical Writing, Peer Review and also organizing training courses in Medical Journal publishing. One of the participants from Nepal pointed out that training, motivation and incentives were all important. Nepal has now twenty five medical journals. We promote authorship, training the postgraduates in medical training.

Speaking about the sources of funding Ian Burgess mentioned society membership, pharmaceutical industry, Grants from the Government, Online and print copy as well as membership fees. Subscription by government institutions, libraries, advertising by Pharma industry, supplements, additional theme issues etc. If a particular issue is sponsored by the Pharma industry, one must declare it on the website. It can be a useful additional source of revenue but one should not depend on it entirely. Other sources of revenue are cost of publications, price per page subscription charges, pay per view, and payment for pdf downloads and processing charges.

Prof. Farhad Handjani from Iran pointed out that nothing is free in any region. Source of funding is different in different countries. There is no infrastructure in journals in various countries. Editors work as academicians; they are staff at the university and do the additional job of Editors of the journals. It was emphasized that Pharma industry plays a vital role and they can give educational grants for supplements. They fund almost 85% of Phase–I trials. If you start criticizing them without any genuine reasons, you will kill the Pharma industry. However, it is important that in case of clinical trials negative and positive results both should be published. Almost 90% of studies do get published. It is not the Pharma industry but the. Peer Reviewers who do not like negative results. Pharma industry sponsored supplements is a reality but one should not sacrifice one’s integrity. Authors need journals. Business model which works in North America won’t work in other countries.  In some countries in the West, there are Foundations, Trusts like Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust which offer grants.

One of the delegates from India remarked that Pharma companies are not that bad. Our experience showed that Null hypothesis got rejected by our own research. Do proper audit. Do not blame the Pharma industry. In USA once IRB approval is obtained, studies will be published irrespective of the results. Good Pharma companies have no problem as they wish to offer care to the patients. Trial registration will also help reduce publication bias but it also depends who looks at them. Retrospective Reviews are not Meta-Analysis. People should be motivated by something. May it be the money, respect; it depends on what drives you. It may be a financial force?  Rigid oversight is mandatory. One has to be careful otherwise the situation which is seen in China may appear in other countries as well i.e. lot of plagiarism particularly in Review Articles. Different countries have come up with different schemes offering incentives to the authors. Iran offers incentives to the authors. Peer Reviewers can be paid through CME Credit Hours. In fact we all need to be incentivized and getting results is difficult in every country. Dr. Akhtar Sherin from Pakistan and Prof. Nundy from India also actively participated in the scientific deliberations during this highly interactive workshop. Dr.Rod Rohrich who was the moderator of the session encouraged the participants to ask questions and give their own input on various issues so that all the workshop participants share their knowledge and experience with each other which was the best way of learning.

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