Sunday, April 14, 2024

Cem Uzun | Future of Medical Journals

by Editor

Cem Uzun, Istanbul, Turkey, is Vice President of the European Association of Science Editors,  past Editor-in-Chief of the Balkan Medical Journal and now Editor-in-Chief of Balkan ORL-HNS

This interview was recorded as part of the celebrations of the Croatian Medical Journal

Watch the interview and enjoy the conversation 

In conversation with… Cem Uzun 

What do you think the future holds for medical journals?

Most difficulties, currently for medical journals, are in finding proper reviews.  For authors, we cannot find enough time to read so many journals and their articles. So, in future, maybe articles will be shorter but linked to larger versions.  And, we will probably use artificial intelligence during the submission process, as well as during the review processes.  The Open Access movement is good but it can also be create some problems, especially for authors. They produce all the research and write papers but then have to pay in order to get published.  This is a problem. The recent trend, since the pandemic, is to publish as soon as possible as part of the first submission process, and to review open to everyone, in order to reach readers faster. It seems that, in future, most journals will publish preprints at the outset.  However, they may still have problems with the review process. Preprints can be good for the development of medicine but it can also be dangerous, I think, because it seems weaker than the previous system of previous peer review. Also, because there are so many journals and peer reviewers have a large workload, we have to find solutions in order to have better review processes in the future.

DMacA: What do you think is the future for repositories, even before we think of preprints?

CU: Repositories will increase, I think, because researchers will begin to learn to upload their data at the very beginning, probably at the planning stage, so that they can formulate their research in the correct way, so that it can be reproducible by other researchers, and also they will not lose time.  I can give you an example from myself. Twenty years ago, when I did my first research, after two years spending a lot of time on the research I found out that I had made a major mistake and that all the data were flawed.

We will probably have to submit our idea first, then shape it with the help of editors and others, then formulate and build our methodology, again open to everyone, and then upload it. Also, I think we need to connect other disciplines in addition to the medical field.  Now, as a otolaryngologist, I need to work with other specialties.  But I think we also have to make connections, not only in medicine but also in the other area like engineering, computer engineering. We are in an age where everything is developing so rapidly and we need colleagues, especially from computer engineering.  I believe several journals from different fields; engineering, medicine, and some sub-specialty fields, will come together and form a multi-disciplinary journal to create greater impact.

DMacA: As an editor then we may not see articles submitted. Will we be searching out articles or will they still be submitted to journals?

CU: It depends, I think, on the quality of the journal.  If you are a well-known journal, you will not need to search for articles, you will get them.  With repositories, of course, you can identify and ask other authors to submit their work to your journal. However, in order to gain interest journals have to learn more in this area. Small journals will still have problems, I think, in the future.  Maybe more problems finding quality articles.

DMacA: With the changes in research, with artificial intelligence and preprints and so much information out there, how does a journal make its mark, how can the journal get to the audience?

CU: The most important thing is the quality of the article and how it is handled.  So, if you can show that you offer something that’s better than the others, for example, you provide, faster submission, you don’t focus on the reference system of the submitted manuscript, or how the results were organized but, you do it in a proper way.  You can, for example, create better tables to show results, help authors to correct the language of the paper- language editing, provide statistics consultation if needed, and provide wavers for open access.  This extra support for authors may attract interest to your journal.

DMacA: So in summary, do you still think there’s a bright future for medical journals?

CU: I am not sure about the bright future, especially for journals from small countries like our journal,  like the Croatian Medical Journal.  Previous times were better, in fact, for us.  Now with the Open Access movement we no longer differ from the others.  Previously we didn’t request payment and we had more papers, more quality papers.  Now nobody asks about payment. But, but if we can stand alone, if we are supported by our institutions, we still have a good future.

DMacA: Thank you very much for those insightful and fascinating reflections on the future of medical journals. Thank you very much indeed.

CU: I am Cem Uzun from Istanbul, Turkey.  I am the past Editor-in-Chief of the Balkan Medical Journal and now I am the Editor-in-Chief of Balkan ORL-HNS. This is a new journal we established recently, and I am currently the Vice President of the European Association of Science Editors.
DMacA: You have a lot of experience in medical journals.  What do you think the future holds for medical journals?
CU: Most difficulties, currently for medical journals, are in finding proper reviews.  For authors, we cannot find enough time to read so many journals and their articles. So, in future, maybe articles will be shorter but linked to larger versions.  And, we will probably use artificial intelligence during the submission process, as well as during the review processes.  The Open Access movement is good but it can also be create some problems, especially for authors. They produce all the research and write papers but then have to pay in order to get published.  This is a problem. The recent trend, since the pandemic, is to publish as soon as possible as part of the first submission process, and to review open to everyone, in order to reach readers faster. It seems that, in future, most journals will publish preprints at the outset.  However, they may still have problems with the review process. Preprints can be good for the development of medicine but it can also be dangerous, I think, because it seems weaker than the previous system of previous peer review. Also, because there are so many journals and peer reviewers have a large workload, we have to find solutions in order to have better review processes in the future.
DMacA: What do you think is the future for repositories, even before we think of preprints?
CU: Repositories will increase, I think, because researchers will begin to learn to upload their data at the very beginning, probably at the planning stage, so that they can formulate their research in the correct way, so that it can be reproducible by other researchers, and also they will not lose time.  I can give you an example from myself. Twenty years ago, when I did my first research, after two years spending a lot of time on the research I found out that I had made a major mistake and that all the data were flawed.
We will probably have to submit our idea first, then shape it with the help of editors and others, then formulate and build our methodology, again open to everyone, and then upload it. Also, I think we need to connect other disciplines in addition to the medical field.  Now, as a otolaryngologist, I need to work with other specialties.  But I think we also have to make connections, not only in medicine but also in the other area like engineering, computer engineering. We are in an age where everything is developing so rapidly and we need colleagues, especially from computer engineering.  I believe several journals from different fields; engineering, medicine, and some sub-specialty fields, will come together and form a multi-disciplinary journal to create greater impact.
DMacA: As an editor then we may not see articles submitted. Will we be searching out articles or will they still be submitted to journals?
CU: It depends, I think, on the quality of the journal.  If you are a well-known journal, you will not need to search for articles, you will get them.  With repositories, of course, you can identify and ask other authors to submit their work to your journal. However, in order to gain interest journals have to learn more in this area. Small journals will still have problems, I think, in the future.  Maybe more problems finding quality articles.
DMacA: With the changes in research, with artificial intelligence and preprints and so much information out there, how does a journal make its mark, how can the journal get to the audience?
CU: The most important thing is the quality of the article and how it is handled.  So, if you can show that you offer something that’s better than the others, for example, you provide, faster submission, you don’t focus on the reference system of the submitted manuscript, or how the results were organized but, you do it in a proper way.  You can, for example, create better tables to show results, help authors to correct the language of the paper- language editing, provide statistics consultation if needed, and provide wavers for open access.  This extra support for authors may attract interest to your journal.
DMacA: So in summary, do you still think there’s a bright future for medical journals?
CU: I am not sure about the bright future, especially for journals from small countries like our journal,  like the Croatian Medical Journal.  Previous times were better, in fact, for us.  Now with the Open Access movement we no longer differ from the others.  Previously we didn’t request payment and we had more papers, more quality papers.  Now nobody asks about payment. But, but if we can stand alone, if we are supported by our institutions, we still have a good future.
DMacA: Thank you very much for those insightful and fascinating reflections on the future of medical journals. Thank you very much indeed.

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