Annual Meeting Reports

Experiences from the Developing World— International Scholarship Recipients

Since 2004, CSE has awarded scholarships to editors from developing nations so that they may attend the CSE annual meeting. This year, there were three recipients of these scholarships: two from Nigeria and one from Bangladesh.

Moderator Milka Kostić, associate editor of Chemistry & Biology and Structure, began with updates from two of last year’s scholarship recipients, Eric Omogbai and Shamsideen Ogun, both from Nigeria. Both recipients lauded the efforts of CSE and the huge effect of the conference on their journals. Favorable outcomes included growth of the journal, increase in number of reviewers, revamping of workflow for better efficiency, and ideas for enhancing productivity.

Kostić presented for scholarship recipient A K M Azharul Islam, who was unable to attend for health reasons. Islam, from Bangladesh, is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Scientific Research (JSR), which began publication in 2009. JSR is both an online and print journal published by the Rajshahi University Faculty of Science. Islam’s presentation stated that challenges facing the journal included insufficient resources, power outages, inadequate Internet access, and the inability of some authors to write well in English. In addition, the journal lacks an office and has no staff. The journal is published three times a year and is hosted by Bangladesh Journals Online (BanglaJOL); this hosting has saved JSR from having to build its own Web site. Through the mentoring of the International Network for the Availability of Science Publications (INASP) and its project AuthorAID, Islam hopes to improve the quality of papers published by the journal. In addition, the presentation emphasized that efforts would be made to increase the visibility of the journal on major Internet search engines.

The Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research (TJPR) has come a long way from where it started, said scholarship recipient Augustine Ohisamaiye Okhamafe, editor-in-chief, describing his experiences. The journal started in 2002 with personal resources from Okhamafe and a colleague, Patrick Erah, the editor. The journal, biannual at the time, had both print and online versions. However, because of inadequate resources, only the online version of the journal was continued, with the print version available on demand. Many of the challenges that Okhamafe identified resembled those mentioned in the presentation from Islam. TJPR now publishes six issues a year and is indexed by Science Citation Index, Journal Citation Reports, and others. TJPR has also been approved for indexing by MEDLINE/ PubMed. Okhamafe commented that the scholarship to attend the annual meeting and especially the Short Course for Journal Editors has equipped him with strategies to help him improve the journal’s ranking. In addition, he stated that he plans to explore ways of publishing collaboratively with other journals.

The final speaker was scholarship recipient Francis Aba Uba, editor of the African Journal of Pediatric Surgery (AJPS). “Colleagues in the developed countries find it hard to believe that one person can run a journal,” Uba said, telling the story of his journal. With the absence of any pediatric-surgery journal in Nigeria, and even Africa, at that time, the journal was born of the necessity to “share evidencebased information”. The journal, run by Uba alone, has been published since 2004. Despite having financial constraints and no formal office or staff, the journal publishes three times a year and is indexed by MEDLINE/PubMed, African Journals Online, and other indexing services. Uba echoed the numerous challenges facing editors in developing countries. He noted that AJPS aims to attract researchers in Africa, but, surprisingly, most of the manuscripts submitted are from Asia. He stated that the lack of research culture, especially in Africa, has contributed in part to the shortage of manuscripts from Africa. Uba stressed that funding will remain a serious problem for journal editors in developing nations. When his journal instituted a fee to submit manuscripts, the number of articles submitted from Africa dropped drastically.

Overall, the three speakers reported similar experiences as editors from developing nations. The greatest challenges for this group include lack of funds, paucity of researchers, and scarcity of fellow editors.