Year : 2021 | Volume
: 11 | Issue : 2 | Page : 53--55
A ten-year-old obstetric anaesthesia journal: Musings of an editor
Department of Anesthesiology, Pain Medicine and Critical Care, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India
Prof. Anjan Trikha
Room no 5020, Department of Anesthesiology, Pain Medicine and Critical Care, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi
|How to cite this article:|
Trikha A. A ten-year-old obstetric anaesthesia journal: Musings of an editor.J Obstet Anaesth Crit Care 2021;11:53-55
|How to cite this URL:|
Trikha A. A ten-year-old obstetric anaesthesia journal: Musings of an editor. J Obstet Anaesth Crit Care [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Nov 28 ];11:53-55
Available from: https://www.joacc.com/text.asp?2021/11/2/55/327415
Ten years ago, I felt as one does on seeing their new-born baby take life. At the time of inception of this journal, I had written that 'the birth has been a “laborious” one with many accelerations and decelerations in the heart rate without any kind of analgesia. However, once delivered, the Apgar score has been great and I can assure the future growth and development of this bundle of joy would be like any other healthy journal.' Indeed, the decade-long life of the Journal of Obstetric Anaesthesia and Critical Care (JOACC) has been challenging and satisfying. Over 280 articles have been published over the years from every corner of the world, all free of cost and openly accessible. Some of the articles from the initial years continue to be most popular. These include an article titled 'The Baska Mask® - A new concept in self-sealing membrane cuff extraglottic airway devices, using a sump and two gastric drains: A critical evaluation' by Zundert and Gatt, which, in 2012 was one of the first mentions of this novel device in the literature. The article titled 'Neuraxial blocks in parturients with scoliosis and after spinal surgery' by Sharma and McConachie is one of the most widely read and downloaded articles. Two review articles from the initial years, 'Anaesthetic management of patients with peripartum cardiomyopathy' by Ramachandran et al. in 2011 and 'Dexmedetomidine in pregnancy: Review of literature and possible use' by Nair et al. in 2013 about the role of the then-novel and upcoming drug dexmedetomidine in parturients, continue to be amongst the most cited and widely read articles. These articles are relevant even after years of their publication and are amongst the few articles on these important topics in the context of pregnant women. In this spirit, the tenth-anniversary issue aims to address a widespread disease with several clinical ramifications for the parturient, especially in low-income countries – anaemia., In India and other developing countries, the clinical profile of the typical parturient and the medical and socioeconomic issues surrounding maternal morbidity and mortality are very different from those in the developed world. Thus, an understanding of anaemia in pregnancy continues to occupy an important place in the knowledge and skill set of an obstetric anaesthetist in these areas. This issue features an article titled 'Pathophysiologic and anaesthetic considerations in iron deficiency anaemia and pregnancy' by Sharma et al. In addition to iron deficiency and nutritional anaemia, congenital and genetic disease processes such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia also have a significant contribution to the burden of anaemia in parturients., These diseases are particularly prevalent in the Indian subcontinent but have received little attention in the literature. This issue also aims to address this lacuna in the available literature with two review articles focussing on these two oft-overlooked topics: 'Pregnancy in thalassemia, anaesthetic implications, and perioperative management - A narrative review' by A Singh et al. and 'Sickle cell disease in pregnancy and anaesthetic implications: A narrative review' by Y Singh et al.
As I proudly think about the shape that this journal is now taking, it also brings to mind some of the problems and hurdles faced by me, especially in the initial years. JOACC was only the second dedicated obstetric anaesthesia journal in the world, and running a specialty journal brought its fair share of challenges for me. These primarily included the availability of good articles and good reviewers. Getting high-quality, well-written articles relevant to the specialty is particularly challenging. It is a complicated and laborious process, often requiring intensive hand-holding of the authors to improve their manuscripts for the sake of procuring quality content for publication. Similarly, finding good-quality expert reviewers is always an uphill task for any journal, but even more for narrow-specialty journals. In addition, new developments are sparse in the field of sub-specialties; as such, quality research emanates only occasionally. Original articles are usually on a small range of topics, are frequently repetitive with only minor modifications in protocols, and often have little or no implication for actual clinical practice. Furthermore, low-impact publication pieces, such as case reports and correspondences, often make up the majority of submissions, rather than high-impact randomized controlled trials or meta-analyses. JOACC, unlike many journals, continues to accept case reports, provided they help to significantly change the future management of similar patients. Another issue that I have observed is that submissions are often poorly written despite sound academic content, and require intense language correction and re-writing to mould them into publishable form. JOACC presently has a high rejection rate and the best advice I can give to potential authors is to be honest while reporting results and writing the manuscript in simple and grammatically correct English. It may be worthwhile for authors to take help from a language expert or utilize the various freely available language improvement software available on the Internet.
As this 'child'—the Journal of Obstetric Anaesthesia and Critical Care—turns ten years old and approaches its teenage years with the accompanying rollercoaster of hormones, it faces peer pressure to do what everyone else is doing. Similarly, this journal, as every journal faces in its journey, faces pressure to be seen on conventional indexing platforms (such as PubMed) and charge publication fees. However, as I look back, I find that the landscape of the medical publishing world has undergone a vast change. Open-access journals have become the flavour of the decade. Further, as the medical fraternity gains increasing interest in academic publication, journals are witnessing an all-time high in the number of manuscripts being submitted. As an increasing amount of academic content becomes freely available online to all who wish to access it, certain traditional concepts have become irrelevant. Chief amongst these is the concept of indexing on reputed indexing platforms such as PubMed., Indeed, there has been a steadily reducing gap between the quality of articles published on conventionally indexed journals and non-indexed ones.
A pertinent question that the present scramble for publications has raised is the ethics of 'article processing fees'. Can the concept of payment to a journal or a publisher for publication of academically sound content be justified? This is particularly relevant for the exorbitant fees charged by the most-reputed journals which completely precludes all but a handful of well-funded researchers in developed countries. Several journals claim that these fees go towards English language editing services and statistician services. However, such exorbitant fees can hardly be justified when complex statistics are needed only in a small percentage of publications and inexpensive English language editing services are freely available. Finally, certain journals and publishing houses charge publication fees from authors with no tangible service offered in return, except for the 'privilege' of publishing with them, which is grossly unfair.
Ironically, the one service that every journal must employ which requires time, effort, and expertise is the only universally unpaid one: reviewing. Journals depend heavily on peer reviewers to uphold and maintain the quality of the journal, yet historically have never paid them for this crucial service. The concept of peer review being an altruistic service offered to one's field of work in the interest of academic progress does not cut much ice in today's time. The time and effort expended to meticulously perform a single good-quality review necessitate some recognition. What can be offered as a token of appreciation to reviewers? If one extends the monetary argument, then perhaps reviewers can be paid an honorarium for their reviews. Of course, this too raises its fair share of dilemmas; for instance, who pays for the reviewer fees, and what amount would be appropriate. While one may argue that the article processing fees paid by the authors should go towards reviewer reimbursement, there are several other options possible. Perhaps the society owning the journal, or the well-funded publishing houses should offer to bear the cost of reviewer fees. Similarly, the fees or the honorarium can be a small amount offered more as a gesture rather than true monetary compensation. Even a small amount if paid as a lump sum after the reviewer completes, say, 10 reviews for a journal, would amount to a decent sum. Another option would be to fix reviewer reimbursement as a percentage of the publication fees of that particular journal. This may help justify the high values of the latter and also attract quality expert reviewers. In addition, some scales of grading reviewers according to their level of expertise may also help to adjudge the reimbursement amount. Furthermore, reviewing must be viewed as an academic activity, with due credit given during recruitments and promotions in academic posts. While various logistical concerns will gradually fall into place with time, it is high time that this concept of reviewer recognition is taken seriously by the medical fraternity.
These changes have made it an interesting time to be the editor-in-chief of the JOACC. As would be evident to the readers, the journal has a new look for its second decade of life. It would be fascinating to see where this road leads and how this ten-year-old child grows into a young adult. I sincerely hope that I can find the perfect extended family for this child, that is, a family that has enough time and energy to bring up this young journal with a feeling of completeness and intense satisfaction.
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