PL.1. Challenges of running a traditional journal

Friday 8 June: 16.30 – 17.30
Plenary session 1
Main auditorium, Ground floor

Challenges of running a traditional journal
Chair: Ana Marusic, University of Split School of Medicine / EASE

  • Traditional scientific journals in the 21st century (Eva Baranyiova, Editor in Chief, Agricultura Tropica et Subtropica, Czech Republic)
  • The Rise and Fall and Survival of ‘Pneumologia’, a Medical Society Journal (Tudor Toma, Journal Director, Pneumologia: The Journal of the Romanian Society of Pneumonolgy, Romania)
  • Science is an ongoing development of knowledge (Madalina Georgescu, Otomed Medical Center, Romania)

Session Overview
Modern publishing technologies and globalization of dissemination of scientific findings provide challenges and opportunities for traditional journals. In this plenary session, three speakers present pertinent examples of these. They detail some of the difficulties that journals with different publishing models in three different countries and settings face and what strategies allow them to ‘survive’ and fulfil their readers’ and contributors’ needs. The example of a university-published journal sets the scene by referring to the historical context and funding of scholarly publishing and demonstrates how a fading traditional journal could be revived. The specific advantages of society journals being closer to their audience are subject of the example from a Romanian medical society journal. The session concludes with the successful example of the launch of a new ‘traditional’ journal.

Traditional scientific journals in the 21st century
Eva Baranyiova, Agricultura Tropica et Subtropica, Czech Republic

The 16th and 17th centuries brought important changes in science; the first scientific institutions and societies, such as the Royal Society of London and the French Académie des Sciences, were founded, followed by others in many European countries. Scientists, their members, needed to present and share discoveries and disputes. The first traditional scientific journals came into existence (Journal des Scavans and Transactions of the Royal Society of London, both in 1665). During the Enlightenment period, numerous universities founded their own journals, many of which exist to this day. These journals used to be financed by the publishing institution, and in many countries they also served the host institution’s library in that they were exchanged for journals of other universities.These journals have provided a forum for the scientific production of university scholars and students. This basic role of traditional journals has not changed. However, the science has. It is no longer a private hobby. In most countries, sophisticated systems of state and private financial support exist and research in many branches of sciences is also governed by political necessities. Science has become a huge business. As a consequence, the entire science publishing scene has changed and it has been exposed to numerous pressures. Inevitably, there are new challenges also for traditional scientific journals. One story of saving a university journal that was nearly abandoned after 48 years of existence will be presented along with problems that other such journals are presently facing.

The Rise and Fall and Survival of ‘Pneumologia’, a Medical Society Journal
Tudor Toma, Pneumologia, Romania

Pneumologia’ is the official Journal of the Romanian Society of Respiratory medicine. It was established in 1951 and during the Communist period, it was the main, if not the only, source of information for chest doctors in the country, and it was easy to produce and distribute. However, now, it is one of the journals competing with many other journals and sources of medical information freely available to doctors. What is, therefore, the role of a society journal at a time when any medical information is easily accessible online? Do we still need these types of journals? The challenges for ‘Pneumologia’ are multiple, and the main difficulties to overcome are usually related to the low volume of article submissions, the quality of the peer review system, revenues, and readership. There are no immediate and simple solutions to these problems. Perhaps best for society journals is not to compete with high impact journals, but to offer something new or useful specifically to the society members, which the bigger journals cannot offer. This, in our view, should be a high-quality platform for education and networking, with its focus directed to clinical problems, while still supporting emerging research.

Science is an ongoing development of knowledge
Madalina Georgescu, Otomed Medical Center, Romania

Important elements of science comprise students who learn from scholars, practical and research experience in specific domains, and sharing knowledge at conferences and in scholarly journals. There has been tremendous progress in all fields of science in recent decades and it is no surprise that there are many scientific journals, old or new, presenting research results. Researchers aim to be published in well-indexed journals, as proof of the high quality of their research, and to advance in their academic career. Is obviously difficult to launch a new journal in any field of science. Scientific quality of articles needs to be good, and researchers need wide recognition which they may not find associated with new journals. Thus, setting up a new journal is a risky endeavour; experienced supporters are needed to submit articles to guarantee continuity and good scientific quality. There are many challenges for new journals which must cover large numbers of readers to sustain financially, attract established researchers and be attractive for young professionals, for example though offering open access. Our group started a new Romanian otorhinolaryngology journal – ORL.ro10 years ago, with the aim to increase national spread of medical information in the field of ear nose and throat medicine, to increase the recognition of physicians in our community and to increase the participation of young doctors who may have very limited financial support, to publish their medical results in an indexed medical journal. It was not easy, but we have had loyal colleagues who supported us, a good publisher that provided not only a high-quality print journal, but also a dedicated team for advertising our work and promoting the journal. And I think we managed well.