As we start a new year and a new volume of Paediatrics & Child Health (PCH), it seems appropriate to pause and reflect on what we’ve learned since we launched a new era for this journal with Oxford University Press (OUP). First, I apologize for the font size in the initial issues, which required the use of a magnifying glass for those of us born before The Beatles first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show (February 9, 1964). I hope you’ve noticed the changes we made, and find the layout and design easy to read and digest. In our mission to be a journal that improves child and youth health by providing clinicians with evidence-based and practical information and education, what are the challenges for Paediatrics & Child Health? How do we solicit articles that are both of interest and of practical value to readers (or of interest to a small segment of readers but likely to warrant a Nobel Prize)? Rightly or wrongly, publications by academic physicians are primarily judged by the journal’s impact factor (determined by the frequency with which articles from that journal are quoted in other journals). The PCH 5-year Journal Citation Reports impact factor is a healthy 2.3 and we have no publication fees. We do need to work harder at informing potential authors that we are an excellent choice for their manuscripts, particularly those that might lead to even a small change in practice for general paediatricians in Canada. How do we ensure that the most appropriate articles are considered for publication? Authors have typically spent months (or even years) completing a study. It then takes at least twice as long as one would ever estimate to write the manuscript. Research has very much evolved into a team sport so typically, the first author will have to satisfy multiple fellow authors, each of whom has read a slightly different version of ‘How to write a medical manuscript’. There is then the joy of navigating an online review system, which entails adding an abstract (despite being the most vital part of the publication, it is often tacked on in haste), deriving keywords, suggesting reviewers and changing figures into a semi-obscure format. It seems sad if the editor then rejects the paper without sending it for review, but there is no other option if the subject is likely to be of limited interest to the journal audience. Another major barrier is that often authors seek to publish a report of a novel program that they claim has improved patient care or medical education but unless they can document that improvement, it seems bold to try to sell it to the world. How do we ensure that the peer review process is fair and efficient for articles that we deem potentially appropriate for PCH? It is my opinion that it has become increasingly difficult to find peer reviewers, as almost anyone who has published a medical manuscript in the past decade is inundated with requests to review manuscripts. This stems from the almost-logarithmic growth of journals published by ‘predatory’ publishers. Starting in about 2000, legitimate online-only journals appeared. Rather than using a subscription or advertising model, these journals charged the authors an ‘article processing charge’ to publish their manuscript, often offering lower rates to authors from resource-poor countries. The huge advantage to this model is that accepted manuscripts are ‘open access’ (available online free of charge almost immediately, sometimes with all peer review comments accessible), leading some major funders such as the National Institutes of Health to require that all research they sponsor be published only in journals with an open access option. One disadvantage is that junior authors may not have research funds to cover the article processing fees. Another disadvantage is that within a decade, this model was adopted by ‘predatory’ publishing companies. Such companies publish open-access journals that differ from ‘standard’ journals; typically the job of the editor-in-chief is nebulous, the editorial board (if one exists) will never communicate with each other or convene, and because the goal of the journal is to collect as many article processing charges as possible, the standards for acceptance of articles may be ridiculously low (See http://healthydebate.ca/2017/01/topic/canadian-research-falling-prey-predatory-journals for the lack of barriers experienced by an Ottawa reporter in publishing a manuscript that was total nonsense). The publishing world becomes even more confusing when predatory publishers purchase journals from legitimate publishers; these journals retain their impact factor, title, and indexing in databases such as PubMed. Thanks to my stellar editorial board and to our reviewers for countless hours of reviewing the work of others to ensure that every manuscript we publish is accurate, clear, concise and useful. All comments (in particular the positive ones) are welcome at email@example.com. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Canadian Paediatric Society. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Paediatrics & Child Health – Oxford University Press
Published: Feb 1, 2018
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