koleksi jurnal kesehatan

Medical journals in the Middle East
Despite being known as the cradle of civilisation and
accounting for 5% of the world’s population, only 1•5%
of scientific papers published every year come from the
Middle East. But, with the jury out about the tangible
impact of small journals, an important question
remains—does the world need small journals from lowincome and middle-income countries?
Some people have little faith in small journals from
developing countries. Jerome P Kassirer, a previous Editor
of the New England Journal of Medicine, once asserted
that “developing countries should receive guidance
on nutrition and immunization before getting advice
on medical editing”. However, physicians practising in
the Middle East are faced with situations far removed
from those encountered by practitioners in developed
countries. This different practice of medicine makes a
strong argument for countries in the region to publish
their somewhat different experiences. However, to seek
international acceptance, a journal from this region
should present something new to fill the knowledge gap,
by, for example, reporting locally prevalent diseases.
More than 500 medical journals are published in
the Middle East, usually quarterly. About 75% of
these journals are in Arabic and Persian, but to reach
the maximum audience and to gain international
recognition, many journals are also published in English.
However, few of these journals receive submissions from
countries other than where they are based. Furthermore,
there are only a few Middle Eastern journals that can
fulfil the minimum requirements of major indexing
systems—only 79 of 8073 journals indexed in Thomson
Reuters and 67 of 5615 journals indexed in Medline are
from Middle Eastern countries.
Thanks to inexpensive desktop publishing technology,
countries in the Middle East have had a publishing
boom—many new biomedical journals have been
launched in the past three decades. For instance, 30 years
ago, there were fewer than ten medical journals in Iran,
but there are now more than 300. However, although
most of these journals are peer-reviewed, the standard
of reviewing is not high. Added to that problem,
these journals are low profile and typically affiliated
to universities. Although publication of most of these
journals has no reasonable scientific justification, there is
a strong raison d’être for them—to provide a framework
for career promotion of faculty members by publishing
their articles.
Most of the higher quality journals in the Middle East
are affiliated with medical associations. Editors of these
journals are usually not under pressure from faculty
for publication, and thus they have more freedom to
choose better papers. Many of these journals also have
access to more funds. An example of such a high quality
journal is Archives of Iranian Medicine, which is affiliated
with the Iranian Academy of Medical Sciences and has
the highest impact factor of all Middle Eastern medical
journals—1•34.
Running a journal in this part of the world is
challenging. Editors receive no training in editorial
processes. Added to these struggles is the fact that
publication of poor quality articles results in low
credibility, little chance for being covered by prestigious
indexing systems, and, ultimately, low visibility that
leads to low submission of quality research articles
and reinforces a vicious cycle of inadequacy. Journals
that have such restrictions make almost no scientific
contribution. One way to tackle these problems would be
to spend the limited national publishing budgets on only
a few journals. Many low quality journals in the region
could be merged to make a new regional journal with
a better infrastructure. Journals can break the vicious
cycle of inadequacy by increasing their visibility through
online publishing. Fortunately, several good, free software programs are available, including Open Journal
System, which can help editors run the whole process of
an online journal in a professional way.
Editors from the region should train each other by
exchanging ideas, sharing experiences, and learning
from one another. To do so, they established the Eastern
Mediterranean Association of Medical Editors (EMAME)
in 2004. Regional workshops on different aspects of
editorial craft should also be run in the region. With these
measures, improved quality of medical publications and
a consequent boost in standards of health care in the
region should be expected. In such a way, small journals
might provide leadership in the region.
Farrokh Habibzadeh
The Lancet Middle East Edition, NIOC Medical Education and
Research Centre, Shiraz, Iran
For more on small journals see
Viewpoint Lancet 2012;
379: 1361–63
For a list of Mid

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