HEC plans to review and revise regulations regarding Health Science Journals


Symposium on Quality improvement in Research Publications at SIMS
HEC plans to review and revise regulations
regarding Health Science Journals
Guidelines will be finalized after input from all
the stakeholders-Asif Hussain

From our Correspondent

LAHORE: Higher Education Commission plans to review and revise regulations regarding the Health Science Journals. Final guidelines will be prepared after input from all the stake holders. This was stated by Mr. Asif Hussain, Director Research Publications Section while responding to a question during the Symposium on Quality Improvement in Research Publications organized by Editorial Board of ESCUILPAIO, official journal of Services Institute of Medical Sciences Lahore held on October 29th 2021. He was one of the invited guest speakers at this symposium.

This was the first most sensible and positive response from any official of Higher Education Commission regarding regulations of Health Science Journals which must be commended and appreciated. M. Asif Hussain has recently been entrusted these responsibilities and it appears he is well aware of the ground realities hence the need for review of the regulations.

The Editorial Board of ESCUILPAIO, official journal of Services Institute of Medical Sciences
organized a symposium on Quality improvement in Research Publications. Photograph
shows Prof. M. Amjad charring the session. Also sitting on the Dais speakers from
(L to R) are Prof. Tayyaba Waseem, Prof.Saira Afzal, Mr.Shaukat Ali Jawaid
& Prof. Majeed Chaudhry.

Other speakers included Prof. Mohammad Amjad Principal SIMS, Prof. Majeed Chaudhry Principal Lahore Medical & Dental College, Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid Chief Editor Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences, Prof. Saira Afzal Editor Annals of KEMU and Prof. Tayyba Wasim Chief Editor of ESCULAPIO.

Mr. Asif Hussain was responding to a question from Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid who had pointed out that Pakistan Association of Medical Editors was a registered body of editors of Biomedical Journals in Pakistan and they had a very bad experience with the HEC in the past. We have been inviting the representatives of HEC to PAME biennial conferences regularly, written to the Chairman HEC to send their representative to the conferences to listen to the problems faced by the Editors and try to find a feasible, practical solutions. PAME has also offered it’s expertize to HEC without any obligations to help professional capacity building of Editors of Health Science Journals. PAME has serious reservations regarding present regulations, the categorization of journals, credentials of those who are advising the HEC. We have often requested that let us have a meeting and we can sort out these issues as we have a common objective of improving the standard of Health Science Journals. Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid had also pointed out that the job of the regulators should be to facilitate and not police the journals and the names of those who are advising the HEC regarding Health Sciences Journals must be made public as it was not a national secret.

M. Asif Hussain clarified that HEC had no intention of policing but it was interested in monitoring these journals to ensure their quality and standards. He further stated that they will welcome any suggestions in this regard. He also highlighted the salient features of registration of Health Science Journals System, the categorization, journals already covered by Web of Sciences enjoying Impact Factor and those covered in international database Scopus are preferred. HEC feels that there should be at least five original articles in each issue of a journal for recognition. The idea is to promote Evidence Based Medicine, upholding professional ethics and appropriate management of scientific misconduct.

Group photograph taken after the symposium Quality improvement in Research Publications held at SIMS on
October 29th shows the then Principal Prof Amjad alongwith speakers Prof. Tayyba Waseem, Prof. Majeed
Chaudhry, Shaukat Ali Jawaid, Prof. Afshan, Prof. Saira Afzal and some other distinguished participants.

Earlier Prof. Tayyaba Wasim welcomed the guest speakers and the participants to the meeting. She also introduced the ECULAPIO the official journal of SIMS, how efforts are being moved to improve it with the help of senior editors and colleagues in PAME. She also highlighted the importance of papers, why do we undertake research. The idea is to create public awareness, improve our professional knowledge, to carry science forward and all this eventually also leads to improvement in patient care. She also discussed various types of studies, meta-analysis being the highest quality followed by original research and RCTs. Selection of topic for research and selection of journal for publication were all most important. Open Access Journals are preferred as they have much wider readership. There are problems with publication charges. Higher the number of your publications higher academic impact you have. She was of the view that one must have passion for research and writing to succeed. Financial limitations, unethical publication practices, fraudulent studies and research, lack of training in medical writing, data and record keeping, collaboration between the members of the Editorial Board, maintaining high quality, local guidance to the editorial team, were all discussed in detail. She laid emphasis on veracity of the journal, contents should cover multiple disciplines, geographic distribution of the editorial board and authors were also important for recognition of the journal by regulatory bodies and indexing services. One must review the journal strategies from time to time, have a pool of good reviewers, and avoid gift authorship. In the end she commended the services of the editorial team of the SIMS Journal which were all doing their best to in most difficult circumstances.

Prof. Majeed Chaudhry was the next speaker who talked about Role of Leadership in Research. The role of leaders, he said, is to build a team and delegate authority. Leadership is the art of leading others to deliberately create results which could not have been possible otherwise. Physicians as leaders are often like fish out of water. Tough they are highly regarded in the society but most of them have no leadership experience. Clinicians lack proper training for some of these roles hence they have both strength and weaknesses in their leadership positions. Physicians who perform well are highly regarded treasure. They should not be working or treated as administrators and hospital management usually do not regard them as good executives. They are responsible for their patients but find it difficult to delegate duties to others and try to do everything themselves. Doctors are used to give orders and expect immediate implementation by other team members.

Picture shows from (L to R) Prof. Amjad presenting mementoes to Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid Chief Editor Pakistan
Journal of Medical Sciences, Prof. Majeed Chaudhry Principal LMDC, and Prof. Tayyaba Waseem speakers
at the symposium on Quality improvement in Research Publications 
held at SIMS on October 29th 2021.

Prof. Majeed Chaudhry was of the view that physicians must learn the art of give and take, negotiate with other team members. Physicians in leadership role must excel in decision making, task management and communication with other team members. He quoted Peter Drucker who says that “effective leaders are people who have followers, who do the right things and achieve results, who set examples and are visible and take responsibility”. Physicians are called upon to work across the boundaries of their institution. Most effective leader knows the strength and weakness of their team members, and who can deliver the shared vision. Successful leaders are always engaged in setting directions, developing people, redesigning the organization, institution and managing the teaching programmes in medical institutions. Leaders must have a succession plan. The qualities of a good leader he narrated include recognition of team members, encouragement, support and expecting from them the best, clear vision, good communication and teaching by good examples, have clear goals, have personal integrity, focus on team interests and needs, inspire them and stimulate their working. Leadership in Research is influence of one or more people on the research related behaviour, attitudes and intellectual capacity of others. It is essential that institutional leadership is aware of potential research, identifies human resource, encourages students and faculty alike and facilitate funding. Research committees should be headed by people with proven research and academic credentials, accomplishments who will promote research culture. He concluded his presentation by quoting John Maxwell who had stated that “leaders become great not because of their power but because of their ability to empower others.”

How to Get IF for Journal
and How to get published
in IF Journal

The topics covered by Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid in his presentation included How to Get an Impact Factor for a Journal and How to get published in an Impact Factor Journal. Tracing the historical background of Impact Factor he said that it was Dr. Eugene Garfield who gave the concept of citation indexes in 1955, first Science Citation Index was published in 1964 when he also proposed the Journal Impact Factor. IF he further stated is a citation based metrics based on average number of times an article is published in a journal has been referenced by authors of other journals. It is calculated taking into account the number of citations to articles published in a journal during the last two years. At present Clarivate which publishes the Journal Citation Report annually uses twenty eight criteria’s to evaluate a journal of which twenty four are related to quality and four to impact. If the journal fails to pass the initial evaluation they can apply again without any bar. Some of the prerequisites include consistency, regulate publication of print and online issues as per frequency, distinct title, sated scope of contents must match with published contents, geographic distribution of editorial board members, authors. Journal website must have comprehensive accurate information regarding policy, peer review system, processing and publication charges, how they handle scientific misconduct, clearly stated association, society institution affiliation if any, language used must be clear, comprehensible for a global audience, acknowledgement of funding, grants, institution affiliation of editorial board members must be clearly stated. Journal which have full time professional editors get preference.

Speaking about the reasons for rejection of a journal by the evaluation committee for grant of Impact Factor, he mentioned late issues published behind schedule, low citation impact, lack of editorial focus, publication of redundant studies, low diversity of editorial board members, poorly cited authors, low attraction of grants, funding etc. Impact Factor, he said though important but was not the only but one of the criteria’s to judge the standard of a journal. It also has some drawbacks as for calculation of Impact Factor, ISI uses citations in only those journals which they have recognized and are in their database. Some journals indulge in artificially boosting their Impact Factor asking authors to cite papers published in their journal. It was in this background that DORA declaration approved by one hundred fifty scientists from seventy five scientific organizations at American Cell Biology meeting in San Francisco California USA had recommended that IF should not be used for funding scientists, appointments and academic promotions.

In order to ensure publication in an Impact Factor Journal, it is extremely important that the authors carefully reads and follow the instructions for authors on the journal website. They must highlight what new information their study has added to the world medical literature, why an Editor of IF journal should be interested in their study, similar studies and me too studies already published will get rejected. The authors must be careful to ensure that methodology is covered in detail helping others to replicate the study, references tally with the references in the list at the end, their manuscript must contain some important message. Those which cover some controversial issues get preference. He laid emphasis that let us not find a solution to the problems faced in North America and Europe but find an indigenous cost effective, feasible solution to the problems that we face in this region and in our own country. For example we have been experimenting with MTI Ordinance in the KPK for the last eight years, one can look at its impact, has it helped to improve medical education, teaching, training and patient care or not? What have been the advantages of MTI if any so far? Sehat Sahulat Card and Public Health are some other important issues which can be researched and discussed offering guidance to the health planners with properly conducted scientific studies but unfortunately we hardly see any one taking up these issues which are important for Pakistan, he remarked. He was of the view that every editor prefers manuscripts which has greater chances of citations as it increases the Journal Impact Factor by encouraging further citations. In order to help professional capacity building of the editors of health science journals in Pakistan, Pakistan Association of Medical Editors (PAME) in collaboration with University of Health Sciences Lahore has started a six months Certificate Course in Medical Editing. Two batches have so far qualified while the third batch has just finished its training and waiting for final assessment and Viva Exam. Hopefully this initiative will go a long way in improving the standard of health science journals in Paksitan. He also disclosed that after Iran Pakistan was the second country and UHS second university in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region to start such a course.

Prof. Saira Afzal spoke about Ethics in Research. Prof. Mohammad Amjad Principal of SIMS in his concluding remarks said that research has remained neglected in Pakistan. Lack of funding, facilities for record keeping and lack of training were some of the problems which need to be tackled. Physicians are overburdened with patient workload and they hardly get any time for research and other such academic activities. He hoped that participants must have found todays deliberations informative and useful for which he thanked Prof. Tayyba Wasim and her team for organizing this session.


Prof. Tayyaba Waseem Prof. of Obstetrics’ & Gynaecology has been appointed as the new Principal of
ervices Institute of Medical Sciences. Picture shows some of her colleagues presenting her a flower
Bouquet to congratulate her on assuming her new responsibilities and she also

happens to be first female Principal of SIMS.

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