ISAJE Annual Meeting 2004
2004, 9 - 11 October
Editorial staff from 17 journals attended the meeting in the Ippokampos Hotel on the island of Hydra. Our hosts were the editor-in-chief of Exartisis, Gerassimos Notaras, and Anna Tsiboukli, publisher. Staff of KETHEA and editorial board members from Exartisis joined us. Here is a summary of the proceedings.
The launch of ISAJE's first publication, Publishing Addiction Science: a guide for the perplexed, with interesting introductions by the editors and some of the chapter authors, was followed by discussion on how the book could be used in support of our series of training workshops for authors. Collaborative activities with the World Health Organization, one of the book's sponsors, will be developed over the next months. There is also the opportunity to hold a workshop in association with the 10th European Conference on Rehabilitation and Drug Policy (Crete, 10-14 May 2005). Our ongoing collaboration with the US National Institute of Drug Abuse continues, and ISAJE has been invited to conduct a session for participants of their international program. Richard Pates (JOURNAL OF SUBSTANCE USE) coordinates ISAJE's training and education activities.
Isidore Obot (AFRICAN JOURNAL OF DRUG AND ALCOHOL STUDIES) presented a number of ways in which ISAJE can support the low and middle-income (LAMI) countries. Ideas up for future discussion are a young author's award scheme; a one-day training workshop for the French-speaking African countries (with WHO); links to 'free' databases on the web for students with limited access to research material; a 'cv bank' of potential reviewers from the LAMI countries which journals could use to expand their list of referees; a mentoring scheme where authors with work in draft form could be linked with a panel of peer reviewers who could provide preliminary feedback and guidance; and twinning of journal subscribers in the first world with those in the developing world.
ISAJE's special interest groups met separately during the two day conference to discuss and develop their future workplans, and all gave accounts of their activities in the plenary sessions. ISAJE's Language Group, under the leadership of Amador Calafat (ADICCIONES) and Kerstin Stenius (NAT) is considering four possible research projects, two of which have been developed in detail. A further example of work that could be undertaken is the study of terminology and concepts across the cultural barriers, leading to a published lexicon of standard terms with equivalents in various languages. The prime function of the group is to improve dissemination of scientific findings from non-English speaking countries, or those in which the research community is not yet well-developed. Getting funding for translations is therefore important.
The translations will ultimately be mounted on ISAJE's new website, parint.org, the design and implementation of which is being funded, at least for the first year (2005) by NIDA under contract. With the present level of funding, some of the proposed interactive elements of the site and sophisticated search functions have been put on hold. However, it is full steam ahead for the core sections for authors, editors and referees and it is hoped that the site will also be of use to the educated lay public. Good ideas for publicising the new site and graphical content to increase its attractiveness are being sought and some useful suggestions were noted from participants at the meeting. Someone to help develop the content of the site is also wanted. Ian Stolerman (DRUG AND ALCOHOL DEPENDENCE) is leading this project.
Next steps for ISAJE's Ethics Group include 'raising consciousness' about ethical issues in publishing and it is hoped to encourage individual journal editors to write editorials sharing these matters with their readers. The Ethics Group will synthesize the policies and proposals for sanctions against misconduct which were kindly supplied by a number of member journals, into a set of model procedures. Special attention will be given to the responsibilities of editors and owners/publishers. The principles of editorial independence will also be laid out in draft form for scrutiny by ISAJE members. The Ethics Group is chaired by Tom Babor (ADDICTION). Tom McGovern (ALCOHOLISM TREATMENT QUARTERLY) and Gerry Notaras (EXARTISIS) led a most interesting discussion on the role and responsibilities of journals in the wider scientific community.
In the Indexing and Impact Factors Group, suggestions are now complete for minimal English-language information needed for entry into the international indexing services (click on menu button 'Non-English Language Journals'). A new task will be for each member of the group to summarise from his or her national viewpoint the relevance and impact of the current indexing systems. Further, the criteria for entry applications will be researched and presented. Once this preliminary work is done, the group will be ready to formulate an action plan to strengthen the position of ISAJE member journals vis-à-vis the powerful indexing and abstracting databases. Gerhard Bühringer (SUCHT), leader of the group, reported preliminary findings from a questionnaire organised by Robin Room (CONTEMPORARY DRUG PROBLEMS) on perceptions and experiences of member journals with indexing systems and impact factors. From the replies so far received (33%) it was clear that there is at present no real rival to the ISI Journal Impact Factor (JIF). Every major publisher however is a member of COUNTER - a group dedicated to finding alternative standard measures of quality such as counts of full-text downloads. Elaine Stott (Blackwells) warned that journals can be excluded from an indexing service if it already has good coverage in that particular subject area, and a journal applying for inclusion would then have to show very many international references to stand a chance.
At the annual general meeting, ISAJE's outgoing president, Kerstin Stenius, gave a report on behalf of the management board and outgoing treasurer Rick Seymour presented the accounts for the period to 31 December 2003. Kerstin then stepped down from the board and Ian Stolerman took her place as president. Gerhard Bühringer (SUCHT) and Terry Chambers (JOURNAL OF PSYCHOACTIVE DRUGS) were elected unopposed, as vice-president and treasurer respectively. Their contact details and a full list of board members for the 2004-2006 term may be found elsewhere on this website. The board was asked to prepare a paper for next year on widening access to the organisation, particularly for publishers and owners through the medium of associate membership. Also, to prepare a paper on ISAJE's future financial management.
We were happy to welcome to our meeting a scientific journalist, Nana Daoudaki of Ta Nea, vice-president of JUADN (Journalists' Union of the Athens Daily Newspapers), and a member of KETHEA's Council. Nana spoke of the challenges of bringing academic research into the media spotlight. While the journalist is the intermediary between scientists and the lay public, he or she will not share the same agenda as the scientist. Scientists advance their careers by achieving salience for their work. Editors want to promote their journals; and journal owners, whether commercial publishers or not-for-profit learned societies, also have their own agenda. The journalist is driven by the need to sell papers, and the national and generalist press in particular will simplify a story to serve this end. Some members pointed to political interference with media output, a further complicating factor. Nana's talk initiated a lively discussion on how to get publicity for the researcher, the research, and the journal it is published in.
Ana Marušic, editor-in-chief of the Croatian Medical Journal and a former president of the World Association of Medical Journals (WAME), was unfortunately prevented from joining us by travel difficulties. She would have spoken on Success for Small Journals. She has kindly made available to ISAJE electronic offprints of a series of her articles on the challenges of publishing 'outside the mainstream'. Also available (in MS Powerpoint) is a brief introduction to the work of WAME. Please ask Susan Savva if you would like copies of these.
Due to sudden illness, David Tempest, one of our invited speakers, was also unable to be present. David, a specialist in bibliometrics at Elsevier, was to have presented Quality and its Measurement. We were very sorry he could not deliver his authoritative statement in person. However, this is a topic which preoccupies everybody in journal publishing and it ran like a thread through many of the discussions, formal and informal, over the two days. We were fortunate to have expert input from our two publishing representatives, Phil Bishop (Elsevier) and Elaine Stott (Blackwell Publishing).
ISAJE Executive Officer