off record
Shaukat Ali Jawaid

Medical Editors should be
mindful of their responsibilities


Since the faculty members of medical institutions and other researchers, academicians are under pressure to publish, medical editors have assumed greater importance and often behave as King Makers but professional ethics demand that they must be mindful of their duties and responsibilities.  Every editor would like to accept good quality manuscripts which enhances the standard of the journal, its credibility and also ensures greater citations but this does not mean that authors particularly the young researchers should be deprived of the opportunities to publish their work. Keeping up the professional ethics, the editors can help, guide and assist the authors to improve the quality of their manuscripts.

The most common complaint against the editors from the authors is that after submission of their manuscripts, they do not hear for months about its fate and what progress has been made. While in case of those journals who have adopted automationand offer direct submission to their websites, the authors can track their manuscripts by using the allotted password and reference number, the problems becomes acute with those journals which still follow the manual system.

Every author wishes to see its manuscript in print as soon as possible and at times they are quite impatient that is why they are considered as the most dangerous pressure group, the editors have to face. However, it is important that manuscripts received for publication should be immediately acknowledged, and authors should be given an idea as to how much time it may take for further processing, peer review etc.. Even it will be much better if all this information including the processing fee, publication charges and plagiarism policy are covered in detail in the Instructions for Authors and it must be displayed prominently on the journal website. In case the manuscript cannot be processed further for any reasons, the authors must be informed immediately so that they can submit their work to some other journal rather than conveying this information after couple of months.

No manuscript should be rejected without giving any valid reasons and Peer Review report should help the authors to improve their manuscripts.  Good Reviewers though a rare commodity in Pakistan, always give useful advice, suggestions, provide references of similar studies which the authors could find helpful in revising and improving their manuscripts. It is a pity that in Pakistan the number of good quality biomedical journals visible on Medline, PubMed and PubMed Central and those with Impact Factor are just a few, hence they also remain under pressure all the time. Their problems are further compounded when the authors do not follow the word limit as well as limit of figures, tables set by the editors of the respective journals.  The editors of these journals are in a dilemma as there is always lot of pressure on limited space available and if they start accommodating lengthy manuscripts, it will deprive many other authors the chance of getting their manuscripts published early.

Solution to the above problems lies in increasing the number of good quality, peer reviewed biomedical journals, editors following an author friendly policy, accelerating the peer review process, timely communication to the authors giving them feedback besides educating the authors how they can avoid trauma to their manuscripts. Sympathetic attitude of the editors can also go a long way in improving the research culture in Pakistan.

Tail Piece: Principles are to people what roots are to trees. Without roots, trees fall when they are thrashed with the winds. Without principles, people fall when they are shaken by the gales of existence.

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