[This post is from Dr. Haseeb Md. Irfanullah, who has long been active in the AuthorAID community. Thank you, Haseeb! —Barbara]
Over the past 5 years, I have been giving research-communication workshops for young researchers. Recently the Bangladesh Academy of Sciences had me give a workshop on international journal publishing standards for 20 editors of journals indexed in BanglaJOL.
I had two basic challenges: making myself credible to the editors, and keeping their interest for 2 days.
The editors were mostly faculty at universities or scientists at research institutes. I am a research communication enthusiast employed as a nature conservationist. But my 10 years’ association with a Journal Citation Reports (JCR)-indexed journal helped me overcome the first challenge.
To start overcoming my second challenge, I designed the workshop such that the participants could immediately feel connected as editors. One of my starting questions was how to define ‘international journal standards’. The editors identified the following as being important in this regard: DOIs, ISSNs, journal content, instructions to authors, journal policies, the review process, and editorial boards.
I used mainly group work followed by presentation. To avoid monotony, I varied the approaches. For example, I asked the editors to identify challenges of attaining and maintaining international standards; they had group discussions, listed their points on flip-chart paper, and presented them. For the next topic—overcoming these challenges—I asked the groups to identify solutions and present them only by drawing figures or diagrams. It was all good fun!
The four groups each discussed four ethical issues: plagiarism, authorship, referencing, and copyright. I then asked one member of each group to act as an ambassador. Each ambassador was assigned one topic (say, plagiarism); the ambassador then collected views from all groups on that topic and presented them. The exercise went well.
In one session, I surveyed the editors, for example about their journals’ funding sources. I went for debate on another question: Who should check the accuracy of references—author, reviewer, or copyeditor?
We touched on a few important issues yet to be fully understood in countries like Bangladesh: for example, impact factor, DOI, ORCID, e-ISSN, and Creative Commons. We ended with an open discussion on sustainability of journals.
Based on my experience with this INASP-funded workshop, I think we should regularly bring science editors in developing countries together to discuss basic questions such as why we publish our journals and whether our journals maintain internationally acceptable standards. We do not need to form an association of editors to do this. In Bangladesh, for example, the Bangladesh Academy of Sciences, with support from INASP, can serve this role.