Saturday, 5 November 2005: 13.00-14.15
METM 05, Barcelona, Spain

Keynote speech

A mentoring or educational role for national medical journals published in English

Ana Marušić, MD, PhD, Zagreb, Croatia. Dr Marušić is a former president of the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME)—a dynamic virtual organization whose trajectory is documented on their web page—and presently a member of the editorial board of Science Editor, the journal of the Council of Science Editors. As editor of the Croatian Medical Journal, Dr. Marušić has been instrumental in implementing an approach to peer review that serves to mentor young scientists, helping to create a critical mass of researchers in her region who publish successfully. She publishes widely, not only within her medical specialty, but also on issues relating to medical publishing and education.

Scientific journals in small countries are a part of the vicious circle of inadequacy, characteristic of the scientific periphery: low productivity of researchers generates low criteria for academic advancement and low quality of publications in a great number of local journals, resulting in low visibility for a small country’s scientific community in mainstream science. As editors of a general medical journal in Croatia, we learned that the important role of editors in a small scientific community is that of educator. Our first activity was developing an author-helpful policy in the journal by introducing a pre-review of manuscripts to teach authors the basics of presentation skills and scientific writing. Provided that the data were sound and the topic interesting and important, we worked with authors on their articles to make them appropriate for an international peer-review process. We also developed and introduced a mandatory course in scientific methodology and communication into the medical curriculum of all four Croatian medical schools. The course has been running since 1995-96 and is already showing results, visible in the more positive attitude of students towards scientific research and evidence-based medicine, and a significant number of students working on research projects and publishing scientific papers. The journal also runs continuing education courses for young academic physicians, as well as an annual advanced workshop on scientific writing, involving academic physicians from all of southeastern Europe. The long-term goal of our journal’s education activities is to create a critical mass of academic physicians with critical appraisal skills needed for evidence-based medicine and with skills for effectively communicating their research to the international scientific community.