Evaluating editorial research and collaboration among editors’ associations


Ana Marušić, Journal of Global Health and University of Split School of Medicine

How can editors assure the quality of their work? Where is the evidence base for editorial policies and procedures? What is editorial research? This session will present experiences from different editors around the world and explore possible ways of collaboration among editorial organizations in research into peer review, journals and scientific communication.


Mary Christopher, International Association of Veterinary Editors (IAVE)

André Van Steirteghem, Secretary, Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)

Mary Ellen Kerrans, Mediterranean Editors and Translators (MET)

Jacob Rosenberg, International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE)

Magda Luz Atrián Salazar, MD, MSc, President, Asociación Mexicana de Editores de Revistas Biomédicas, A. C. (AMERBAC), Mexico City, Mexico

Presentation abstracts

Magda Luz Atrián Salazar, MD, MSc, President, Asociación Mexicana de Editores de Revistas Biomédicas, A. C. (AMERBAC), Mexico City, Mexico

The Mexican Association of Biomedical Journal Editors —Asociación Mexicana de Editores de Revistas Biomédicas (AMERBAC)— is a voluntary association of biomedical editors from Mexico who seek to foster national cooperation among editors of peer-reviewed and non–peer-reviewed biomedical journals.

AMERBAC works to facilitate this cooperation by providing a forum twice a year for editors to analyze journals and discuss editorial issues with their peers. AMERBAC also fosters broader communication among members and disseminates information about WAME, EASE, ICMJE, COPE, and so on.

In AMERBAC we think editors can assure the quality for their work by sharing experiences, identifying common problems and looking for solutions that are accessible.

We think editorial research is the methodology that will allow us to identify the elements that guarantee the quality of scientific publications, but also facilitate the development of tools to support the job of reviewers or check lists to facilitate the work of the authors.

Even though AMERBAC does not perform editorial research by itself, we motivate Mexican editors to conduct research and share their results. In fact, I am currently conducting an investigation whose preliminary results are also presented at EASE conference. I hope there will be more interest and enthusiasm to develop more research to be carried out in collaboration with other associations.

Mary Christopher, Founding Coordinator, International Association of Veterinary Editors (IAVE)

The IAVE is an informal association of 291 editors from206 veterinary journals in 49 countries. Veterinary medicine has parallels with human medicine; journals range from general (medicine, surgery) to specialty (eg, oncology, pathology) and from species-specific (eg, small animal, equine) to comparative (eg, zoonoses, animal models). IAVE’s mission isto foster international interactions; support continual professional development of editors; improve editorial standards, ethical practices, and peer review; enhance the quality of scientific writing; promote editorial independence; and encourage research in editorial and publication practices.

The IAVE has met annually since 2004 in the U.S. and Europe, in conjunction recently with EASE and the Peer Review Congress. Guest speakers have included medical editors. Several IAVE editors/journals are members of WAME and COPE. An IAVE member serves as a Vice-President of EASE and another chaired the committee that selects journals for Medline. A major effort of IAVE was the 2010 publication of consensus reporting guidelines for animal ethics, the first to address client-owned animal patients. The guidelines have been adopted by several journals and continue to be refined as veterinary schools adopt ethical standards for clinical research. The Nottingham Centre for Evidence-based Veterinary Medicine led a survey in collaboration with IAVE on the awareness, policies, and views of veterinary editors on reporting guidelines (BMC Vet Res 2014;10:10).

The editor of the Australian Vet J conducted a survey of IAVE editors on editing processes and workflow. Individual members of IAVE and EASE collaborated on a bibliometric study to assess geographic trends in veterinary research output, species specialization, and interdisciplinary relationships (BMC Vet Res 2013;9:115).Veterinary journals have much in common with other biomedical journals and small research communities and veterinary editors bring unique expertise and an important perspective to animal research. The IAVE welcomes opportunities to strengthen liaisons with other organizations and contribute to research collaborations of mutual interest.

André Van Steirteghem, Secretary, Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)

Quality assurance of editorial work requires evidence-based evaluation of editorial policies and procedures. As of 2008 COPE offered its members the possibility to apply for research grants (5000 £ per grant). Applications were evaluated by an ad hoc committee and the following proposals received support.

  • Research on retractions: why and how do journals retract articles? Analysis of Medline retractions 1988 – 2008 (J Med Ethics doi 10.136/jme.2010.040964)
  • Systematic review on authorship definitions in major bibliographic databases from different scientific disciplines (presented at 2nd WCRI Singapore 2010)
  • International survey on authors’ awareness of publication ethics
  • Prevalence and attitudes towards plagiarism in biomedical publishing
  • Survey of journals’ instructions to reviewers on how EQUATOR guidelines are followed by reviewers (PLoS ONE 7 (4):e35621)
  • Use of CrossCheck guidance to detect plagiarism in different disciplines
  • Cross-disciplinary analysis of published data
  • Are there specific characteristics of clinical trials primarily designed for the purpose of marketing?
  • How far are we in public disclosure of trial data.

Over the years the number and quality of applications decreased and therefore COPE is now considering to set up a “research commissioning programme” which will be elaborated during the next COPE Strategy Meeting (July 2014)

Mary Ellen Kerans, Continuing Professional Development Chair, Mediterranean Editors and Translators (MET) Council

MET set out to be a forum where wordface workers doing mixed-skill tasks (manuscript editing, translating, teaching and more) could discuss issues that concerned us and our employers or clients. We are the people who work in a myriad of ways for editorial board editors, publishers, authors and institutions, and whenever we attended other associations’ meetings, we had to extrapolate to draw lessons for our own varied situation. So when starting MET, we did not replicate what others were doing, but we did not start from scratch either. We watched other associations and chose to collaborate with them rather than compete for members; we have also tried to contribute to others’ programs. Some of the groups whose organization we studied are SENSE in the Netherlands and several of the highly egalitarian English teaching associations. From groups like EASE, WAME, and a host of applied linguistics associations and journals, we took knowledge about practices, issues, and attitudes. We also noted how translators’ associations organized their training.

For the moment we can say that MET’s focus is on peer training that is firmly structured to combine practical know-how with “light theory” from a variety of fields. Only about 10% of presentations at MET meetings deal with new research, usually related to applied linguistics. Research on journal editing has sometimes been presented but is more likely to be referred to in panel discussions and workshops that review published research. We have no proof that this approach leads to better work quality among wordface workers, but Council recently discussed why we feel it has. I will briefly sketch out MET’s first 10 years’ experience and tell something of Council’s views of this approach so far.

Jacob Rosenberg, International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE)

The ICMJE is a small working group of general medical journal editors whose participants meet annually and fund their own work on the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals (The often called ”Vancouver Groups Guidelines”).  The current members of the ICMJE are Annals of Internal Medicine, British Medical Journal, Canadian Medical Association Journal, Chinese Medical Journal, Ethiopian Journal of Health Sciences, JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde (The Dutch Medical Journal), New England Journal of Medicine, New Zealand Medical Journal, Revista Médica de Chile, PLOS (Public Library of Science), Tidsskrift for Den Norske Lægeforening (The Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association), The Lancet, Ugeskrift for Laeger (Journal of the Danish Medical Association), the U.S. National Library of Medicine, and the World Association of Medical Editors.

The ICMJE is a closed group comprising the above-mentioned members; however, when an editor of a member journal resigns or changes job, then that journal’s position will be up for renewal. This is done by open invitation of applications from general medical journal around the world. The strength of this group is the diversity of journals in their geographical locations, sizes, and business models. Some of the most important accomplishments from this group in recent years have been development of the ICMJE authorship criteria, the ICMJE conflicts of interest form, and the mandatory trial registration for human clinical trials, which have been adopted by most journals around the world. The ICMJE does not themselves perform editorial research as a group, but many of the current and previous individual group members are active researchers within the field.