November 2009

From the President

As I write this, I am in the midst of preparing for the fall meeting of the CSE Board of Directors and committee chairs, on November 20 and 21. This is an exciting time for CSE and for the CSE leadership, as we continue to move forward on many initiatives that came out of our strategic planning. The agenda for the Board meeting is filled!

This year, rather than being held in Washington, DC, as has been done in the past, the Board meeting will be held in Atlanta, Georgia, site of the 2010 CSE Annual Meeting. This location will enable the Board and committee chairs to review and discuss the meeting expectations with both our management staff and the hotel staff. We’ll also be able to look at the accommodations and meeting spaces at the hotel, so we can make the best use of the venue.

I, as well as the rest of the Board of Directors and the committee chairs, want to hear your thoughts about and your ideas for CSE. Feel free to contact me at dLang@press.uchicago.edu. I look forward to hearing from you!

Diane Lang, President, CSE

November Is Dues Renewal Month

Your membership in CSE speaks volumes about your commitment to the quality of scientific editing and publishing. Although the annual meeting is certainly the center of gravity for the organization, CSE provides opportunities for professional development and interaction with like-minded colleagues throughout the year. Because you recognize that CSE addresses the topics, issues, and concerns that are important to you and your work—and you value initiatives such as research and communication about best editorial practices, such as CSE’s White Paper on Promoting Integrity in Scientific Journal Publications; scholarships that enable editors from developing nations to attend the CSE annual meeting; and Global Theme Issues-please keep an eye out for your 2010 dues renewal notice, which will be arriving soon.

In this time of slashed budgets and shrinking bottom lines, it can be difficult for some in our field to make the case to employers to support your membership in a professional organization. To assist you in making a case to your supervisor for renewal of your CSE membership, the Membership Committee has created a sample letter for you to use when requesting the funds for dues renewal. We hope you find this useful.

Tim Cross, Chair, Membership Committee

Short Courses Preceding Annual Meeting

Four popular Short Courses will again be presented in conjunction with the 2010 CSE annual meeting, scheduled for 14-18 May in Atlanta, Georgia. The Short Courses are 1-2-day courses for those in new editorial-related positions or for seasoned participants who want to learn how others handle responsibilities similar to their own. Courses include ample time for exchange of ideas within the groups.

  • The Short Course for Journal Editors (Friday, 14 May and Saturday, 15 May), organized by William Lanier (Mayo Clinic Proceedings), covers the roles and responsibilities of editors, authors, peer reviewers, and consultants. Formal lectures, case studies, and group discussions are used to explore publishing ethics, business decisions, manuscript throughput and office logistics, use of metrics to assess journal progress, and related topics. Ample time is given for participants to engage in group discussions and learn from both the faculty and fellow course attendees.
  • The Short Course on Publication Management (Saturday, 15 May), organized by Patty Baskin (Neurology), addresses scope and tone of communications handled by publications managers, work flow, management of office staff, working with vendors, discussions of current topics of concern such as conflicts of interest and open access, and insight into expectations of editors, authors, and reviewers.
  • The Short Course for Manuscript Editors (Saturday, 15 May), organized by Stacy Christiansen (JAMA), focuses on such topics as levels of editing, ethical and legal issues in biomedical publication, usage issues, and other technical and content-related topics.
  • The Short Course on Journal Metrics (Saturday, 15 May), organized by Angela Cochran (American Society of Civil Engineers), will present different ways to collect, analyze, and present journal data to editorial boards; how to detect trends and analyze changes; ways to use online usage data in conjunction with circulation data for marketing the journal; the value of readership surveys and competition surveys; and ways to use programs like Excel for creating high-impact reports.

The course faculty are excellent presenters and experts in their fields. In addition, you will receive a wealth of reference material and the opportunity to network not only with the faculty but also with other attendees of the course. Be sure to take advantage of these highly respected educational opportunities!

Patty Baskin, Director, Short Courses

Report from the African Journal Partnership Project

Building capacity in scientific publishing has been one of the major thrusts of the African Journal Partnership Project (AJPP). One of the factors affecting the inclusion of African health journals in major electronic bibliographic databases is the quality of journal contents and whether the journals are peer reviewed. Peer review is an essential component of scholarly publications and, for African journals, an area that requires strengthening.

In addition to the need to improve journal quality is the need to make the journals visible to a broader audience through their presence on the Internet. An additional challenge is maintaining timely and regular print production. The lack of timely publication is one of the major factors that prevents the journals from being indexed in online databases. Electronic publishing offers the opportunity to break this cycle. E-publishing enables global visibility, searchability, and sharing of important research. Also, it leads to substantial savings compared with the cost of print, through the elimination of production and distribution cost.

As part of the activities of the AJPP for 2009, the Malawi Medical Journal and the Ghana Medical Journal held 2 workshops, one on e-publishing and the other on peer review, in Accra, Ghana, from 28 September to 1 October 2009. The workshops were funded by the AJPP and Environmental Health Perspectives, the journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) of the United States of America. Invited journals were required to send to the workshop an editorial staff member and the journal’s information technology person. The workshops ran concurrently.

Staff from a total of 13 journals attended from 9 African countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Sudan, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia. Five of the AJPP partner journals were represented. The AJPP includes 6 journals from Africa that are partnered with established journals in Europe and the United States. Funding and support is from the National Library of Medicine and Fogarty International Center of the NIH and from commercial partners including SPi and ScholarOne, with administrative support from the Council of Science Editors.

The goal of the e-publishing workshop was to demystify electronic publishing and explore the detailed cost, benefits, and opportunities. The e-publishing workshop facilitator was Michael Lotz of Environmental Health Perspectives. Participants, who were webmasters of the invited journals, were exposed to the fundamentals of HTML programming for Web site development and XML tagging that complies with PubMed standards. Participants were impressed that they could achieve so much during the workshop. “The workshop was well organized, and the participants also chosen [were from] renowned institutions. Such workshops should be organized at regular intervals so that many people can benefit from it,” commented a participant. There was demand for an extended version of the workshop and involvement of more journals.

The peer review workshop saw active participation by the participants, who were mainly editors in chief. The sessions covered the principle of peer review, reviewers’ responsibility, publication ethics, and other relevant subjects. Again a need was expressed for more of such workshops: “It is an excellent training, very highly relevant to my activities. I will do replication of this training to my authors, reviewers, and editorial members,” said an editor-in-chief.

Time was set aside to review the editorial guidelines developed by the Forum of African Medical Editors (FAME). The future of FAME was also discussed in this special session. A couple of suggestions were made including establishing a common bank of reviewers for interested journals.

The Ghana Medical Journal and the Malawi Medical Journal are grateful for the support of the partnership for these workshops.

David Ofori-Adjei, Editor-in-Chief, Ghana Medical Journal