Clinical Proceedings of Research Journal Editors Meeting organized by ISC at Shiraz, Iran-III



Clinical Proceedings of Research
Journal Editors Meeting organized
by ISC at Shiraz, Iran-III

Note: Part-II of the Proceedings was published in
December 1, 2012 Issue - Editor

SHIRAZ (IRAN): One of the sessions durning the congress was devoted to a seminar on peer-review.

Peer Review Seminar

Prof. Rahmatoolah Fattahi from Mashad Ferdowsi University, Mashad talked about Peer Review issues assuring the quality of knowledge for the 21st century. He discussed in detail the problems and challenges in peer review and how to improve it. Scientific papers, he felt, must have some requirements to maintain quality of knowledge. It also depends on the quality of reviewer’s judgment. Scholarly papers are linked with good peer review, quality criteria’s and research.There is a huge body of knowledge, the existing knowledge, new knowledge which goes through peer review for quality assurance. In peer review the manuscripts are evaluated before they are published. It is a quality control system that requires that all new knowledge must be scrutinized. The rational of peer review is that it adds quality to the papers before they are published which is a must for all scholarly publishing.
The world Peer is often defined as a person of equal standing. Peer Review can also be done following the publication. Published papers often continue to be studied and debated for a longer period and by a much wider audience.Peer review is the evaluation of creative work or performance by other people in the same field in order to maintain or enhance the quality of the work or performance in that particular field. It is a quality control system that requires all new scientific discoveries idea and implications to be scrutinized by critics and expert scientists before they become widely accepted. Peer review is impotent because it is a logical approach to scholarly activities. It is an essential component of scholarly publishing. It is also absolutely fundamental to the decision making process for publication.
Continuing Prof. Rahmatoolah said that there is lot criticism of peer review by the authors and readers who feel that at times the whole process is very slow, expensive, unreliable, inconsistent and potentially biased. Peer Review process varies from journal to journal and reviewers to reviewers. Some people gain and some people lose and some get which they don’t deserve. Peer Review suffers from reviewers and authors, editor’s behaviors, misconduct and inconsistency. He also talked about lack of objective and scientific criteria for reviewing, lack of contrast reviewing and lack of good subject specialists. Sending papers to wrong reviewers,changing reviewing criteria too often also affects the whole process. There is a tendency on the part of editors to enlist reviewers who are friendlier to him/her. Some reviewers may have a built in bias against highly original work and results. Some reviewers may not like some original work. At times low quality papers get published while high quality papers are rejected. Some time there is misuse by some researchers for getting position. Plagiarism, he felt, is not identified if the peer reviewers are not qualified people. Publishing quality papers is critical for all academics and researchers to find or retain a job, to get promotion besides research grants. Hence if not performed thoroughly peer review can lead to a big problem or tragedy, he remarked.
Offering a solution to these problems, he suggested going for objective evaluation from subjective approach. Developing objective criteria, preventing flaws in evaluation, learning critical creative thinking which many of us lack. We must improve our mentality about judgment. Be supportive of good research by young scholars, maintain consistency in reviewing and help the scholar’s community to maintain healthy approach to knowledge production and dissemination. We must go for originality, novelty, quality, usefulness and effectiveness while reviewing papers. Speaking about the approach to peer review Prof. Rahmatullah said that classic approach consists of evaluating a paper on the basis of a check list i.e. title, abstract, key words, problems statement, literature review, questions or hypothesis , findings of the study, discussion and conclusions followed by relevant latest references. We must see if the paper is worth publication, it has some theoretical foundations, there is objective use of literature, and there is originality with proper research design, its usefulness, relevance and whether it does add something to the existing knowledge. All this must be done in detail with proper evidence. It must also be considered if the topic selected is relevant to the journal, the authors have followed the instructions, message is clear and conveyed effectively. Look at the English language and grammar carefully. Find out if a pilot study was undertaken by the authors to test the methodology. After critical discussion the manuscript must provide some new knowledge. Look at the integrity and qualitative criterion and the possible chances of its citation thereby affecting the Impact Factor of the journal. Look if you have published similar papers earlier and what is going to be the reactions of the readers and whether it is in line with the aims ad objectives of the journal?
He concluded his presentation by stating that knowledge is produced through research. Knowledge is accessible through scholarly paper; it links past, present and future knowledge. We must develop objective criteria. Scholarly papers are evaluated through the peer review process. Universities and research centers live in a competitive environment. Scholarly publishing is a must for universities to improve their ranking. Peer review is a scholarly behaviour maintaining quality in publishing research findings and like any other behaviour, it has its own problems and drawbacks. Issues concerning peer review need scholarly approach to solve them. Maintaining and enhancing the quality of papers are the main objectives of scholarly approaches and all these need to be learnt. Very few people have received formal training on how to review a paper. Hence we need to study about our job, attend workshops, and share our knowledge and experience with other colleagues. Finally we need to develop objective and rigorous criteria for comprehensive evaluation of manuscripts.
Dr. Sholeh Arastoopour also from ISC talked about Review papers- a possible solution for information overload. Review papers, she said, scrutinize current knowledge. She also highlighted the benefits of review papers which helps researchers keep up-to-date, show on what topics the colleagues are working on. He also talked about narrative and systematic reviews and differences between both these reviews. Selection of topic and author is very important. Reviewer must have creativity and must be an expert on that particular topic.

Ethical issues in
Scientific Publishing

Ms. Sarah Masoumi from Iranian Journal of Medical Sciences made a presentation on behalf of Dr.Behrooz Astaneh on ethical issues in scientific publishing. This presentation covered in detail topics like ethical misconduct, author disputes, conflict of interest, redundant publication, duplicate submission, fraud, plagiarism, data fabrication and data falsification. Reasons for ethical misconduct could be intentional or due to lack of knowledge. Many researchers do not know what is considered as scientific misconduct. Even some editorial board members are not aware of exact definitions of various misconducts. Not only that many editors do not know how to tackle misconduct. This presentation covered various examples of fraud including Woo Suk Hwang of South Korea who had claimed of stem cell cloning. Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) it was stated is promoting integrity in research publications. COPE provides advice and resources to editors and publishers on all aspects of publication ethics.
COPE work, it was stated, is guided by a Council and specific projects are managed by various committees. COPE was founded in 1997 and today it has over seven thousand members and it covers all disciplines. It has eighteen council members from seven countries. COPE has produced various guidelines and Flow Charts to tackle scientific misconduct. These flowcharts cover plagiarism, fabricated data, changes in authorship, Ghost, Gift and Guest authorship, conflict of interest, General suspected ethical concerns, reviewer’s misconduct and how COPE deals with complaints. COPE also publishes newsletter which is quite informative.
Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid Managing Editor of Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences and Secretary General of EMAME also briefly addressed the participants. He pointed out after going online; there has been a manifold increase in overall submissions to Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences in general and from Iran in particular. During the Year 2011, Pak J Med Sci received 931 manuscripts and published 307 manuscripts after peer review. During the same year the number of manuscripts received from Iran was 292 and only 78 were published after peer review. Some of these manuscripts had to be revised by the authors more than once responding to reviewer’s comments and suggestions before they were accepted. The problem which I want to highlight, he said, was the pressure from authors who are very impatient. Some of them then indulge in simultaneous submissions to other journals and also get them published without withdrawing these manuscripts from Pak J Med Sci. Hence, much against our wishes, we had to take some unpleasent action black listing some of these authors who indulged in scientific misconduct who were also reported to their institution heads. We always advise the authors to publish their manuscripts in the journals from their own country but also offer them help and assistance in publications but scientific misconduct cannot be tolerated, he added.
During the discussion it was pointed out that efforts should be made to collect all relevant literature, enlist co-authors if necessary, and enter citations into an electronic database. Readers, it was stated, do look for new ideas and specific information which clarifies these ideas. Systemic reviews are considered more useful than narrative reviews. Narrative Reviews if done by a distinguished author makes a difference.

Scientific misconduct

The next session was devoted to scientific misconduct. Dr. Hamid R. Jamali was the first speaker who talked about plagiarism and journal publishing. Plagiarism, he said, is defined as the use of someone else’s work or ideas without attribution. It can also be in the shape of paraphrasing and summarizing. It could be in the shape of copying without proper referencing, misattribution, missing in text citation,fabricating references, paraphrasing without rewriting, misinterpretation and self plagiarism. It is important to avoid plagiarism hence one should be very cautious about it. For research we rely on past work and one should write it in one’s own words.
Speaking about types of plagiarism, he mentioned clear plagiarism and minor plagiarism. It could be intention to deceive. Punishment for students, young researchers, he opined, should be modest as compared to full faculty members who should get severe punishment for plagiarism. Language barriers are yet another factor why people indulge in plagiarism. In order to detect plagiarism, editors should screen all manuscripts on submission before they are accepted for peer review. Every journal should have a written policy on dealing with plagiarism. Punishment decisions should be based on type of plagiarism. One should be fair and consistent and editorial policy of the journal should give full details. Authors involved in plagiarism can be banned from further submissions for a particular period. These authors can also be reported to their respective Ministry of Health, Universities and institution heads. He also suggested that every country should have a national body to monitor scientific integrity and efforts should be made to discourage plagiarism.
Dr. Hamid Alizadeh presented a review of plagiarism detection soft ware’s and services. Plagiarism it was stated is a worldwide problem. He also referred to the role of internet and other Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools in growth of plagiarism. Lack of research ethics was also responsible for it to some extent. Journal editors deal with these problems quite often. He described it as a social illness and called for honest policies and punishment system. Bad writing behaviour is a disease which should be detected and treated. Implementing preventive methods, it was stated, will give positive results in long term. There are numerous tools; soft ware’s now available to detect plagiarism which takes very little time.
During the discussion it was stated that we need to create awareness and educate healthcare professionals, researchers about plagiarism. It will prevent plagiarism due to ignorance. Reasons for plagiarism in different countries may be different. Professional research ethics should be taught as a part of training to postgraduates and young researchers. To overcome weakness in English language among young researchers, they should be given courses in English language. Young medical students also need to be taught and trained in research ethics. One of the participants suggested that the journals should put the manuscripts received online for some time and if there is no complaint only then process it further for publication. Peer Review as well as Editing a journal is a time consuming job. Institution heads like Vice Chancellors or Deans are already contributing in many ways hence it should not be compulsory for them to have more published papers for further promotions.

Islamic World Science Citation Center (ISC)

On second day of the conference the session was devoted to inform and update the participants about the services offered and functioning of Islamic World Science Citation Center (ISC). Prof. Farideh Osareh from Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz talked about research journals and citation studies. Science, she said, is an international activity. Quality, visibility and impact of research journals are important. She mentioned about different criteria’s to improve quality of research journals. Citation analysis, she pointed out, was a research method for evaluating the influence and productivity of scientific and technical communication. Journals are a major channel of communication among scholars. Journals publishing represent heart of scientific and technical communication. We must find out what can be done to improve the quality, visibility and Impact Factor of journals from developing countries. Without internalization, science, she opined, cannot flourish. One cannot guarantee standards. Participation of developing countries in science is vital. Tropical diseases are more prevalent in developing countries. There is a lack of proper scholarly communication. If no appropriate steps are taken, science in developing countries will be isolated. No one will read and criticize them what they are doing. New ideas will reach them slowly. If a journal has more citations, it means better quality. Multinational collaboration improves visibility. Multinational distribution of editorial team, multinational authors, users, advisors and international collaboration all are very helpful in improving the standard, quality and visibility of scientific journals.
Ms. Mansooreh Serati from ISC pointed out that ISC Journal Citation Report (JCR) is an important tool used in ranking of journals. ISC prepares JCR in Persian, Arabic and English i.e. PJCR, AJCR, EJCR. ISC website gives all the relevant details.
Ms. Forough Rahimi also from ISC made a presentation on ISC’s Science Citation Index. She pointed out that ISI Thompson Reuter was established in 1960 while Scoups was introduced in 2004. ISC made its debut in 2008 for evaluating research performance of Islamic countries. It is helpful to Islamic countries. Now many other countries outside the Islamic World have also shown interest in joining ISC which will make it an international database.
Dr. Ali Gazni from ISC highlighted ISC’s contribution reports while Dr. Hamid Alizadeh described in detail the ISC Scientific Journal Submission System.Provision of XML files of the manuscripts, he stated, offers ease in processing of articles. During the discussion it was pointed out that those journals who cannot generate XML files can send the soft copy or printed copy of their journals and they will be processed further.