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STUDENT CORNER
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 65  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 169-170

A graduate's perspective on medical student journals


College of Medicine, Alfaisal University, Riyadh - 11533, Saudi Arabia

Date of Submission19-May-2019
Date of Decision24-May-2019
Date of Acceptance31-May-2019
Date of Web Publication18-Jul-2019

Correspondence Address:
A Abu-Zaid
College of Medicine, Alfaisal University, Riyadh - 11533
Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jpgm.JPGM_278_19

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 :: Abstract 


Medical student journals (MSJs) refer to a cluster of entirely student-led periodicals that publish student-authored articles. A recent review showed that MSJs characteristically employ a student-friendly and feeble peer review process, which is largely associated with poor quality of published articles. Herein, as a graduate medical student, I call on peer medical students to make an informed decision in refraining from submitting their research work to MSJs for four primary reasons. These reasons, generally, include: 1) opaque peer-review process, 2) lack of MEDLINE® indexing, 3) absence of official journal impact factor scores, and 4) poor article visibility and exposure to scientific community. Furthermore, I encourage students to take advantage of the existing opportunities provided by the professional MEDLINE®-indexed journals in disseminating their research work. These opportunities include: 1) the absolute welcoming calls for student-authored contributions, and 2) the designated 'student contribution corners'. Lastly, I succinctly highlight the joint duties of medical schools, undergraduate research committees, institutional review boards and mentors in publishing the student-authored research work in the professional journals, rather than the MSJs.


Keywords: Publication, medical student journals, research


How to cite this article:
Abu-Zaid A. A graduate's perspective on medical student journals. J Postgrad Med 2019;65:169-70

How to cite this URL:
Abu-Zaid A. A graduate's perspective on medical student journals. J Postgrad Med [serial online] 2019 [cited 2019 Aug 20];65:169-70. Available from: http://www.jpgmonline.com/text.asp?2019/65/3/169/261957




Medical student journals (MSJs) refer to a cluster of entirely student-led periodicals that publish student-authored articles.[1] Their primary aim is to foster scientific research publishing among medical students. They provide a fitting platform for medical students to disseminate their scholarly research work.

Peer review is the practice of appraising manuscripts for quality, legitimacy, and ingenuity. Furthermore, it is the most fundamental vehicle to authenticate and uphold the veracity of the disseminated science.[2] To that end, the peer review process is always rigorous by the professional journals. Conversely, the “less”-professional MSJs characteristically employ a student-friendly and feeble peer review process, which is largely associated with poor quality of published articles.[1]

Recently, Al-Busaidi and Alamri adequately scrutinized the peer review practices and policies employed by various English-language peer-reviewed MSJs (n = 23).[3] The authors concluded that the peer review process was not largely transparent. I second the authors' conclusion.

Herein, as a graduate medical student, I call on peer medical students to make an informed decision in refraining from submitting their research work to MSJs for four primary reasons.

First, to date according to Al-Busaidi and Alamri,[3] the peer review process of MSJs are largely poor and opaque, and this may result in an unfavorable aftermath of disseminating bad and low-quality research.[1] Thus, medical students should not contribute their research, borne out of hard work, to low-quality MSJs.

Second, only one MSJ (that is, the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine) is indexed in MEDLINE®—the most trustworthy bibliographic database compiled by the United States National Library of Medicine (NLM). MEDLINE®-indexed journals denote earning a badge of legitimacy in scientific publishing after a thorough examination of predefined critical elements, some of which are the “quality of content” and “quality of editorial work.”[3] Thus, medical students should strive to publish in professional MEDLINE®-indexed journals which carry higher added value, credit recognition, and scientific reputation than the non-MEDLINE®-indexed MSJs.

Third, none of the MSJs have an official journal impact factor (IF) reported by the Journal Citation Reports® (JCR). Although controversial, the journal IF remains one of the most common and valuable journal-level metrics to evaluate the “reputation” and “ranking” of journals.[4] Student-authored publications in professional MEDLINE®-indexed journals (with or without journal IF) are always encouraged, and yet possible even from third-world medical schools.[5],[6]

Fourth, one of the central goals of conducting research is to disseminate knowledge, preferably through publication in journals, or presentation in scientific meetings.[7] Unfortunately, the scholarly scientific community is unlikely to be interested in spending time reading research articles published in the “far less professional” journals—the MSJs. Thus, publishing in MSJs is associated with far less visibility and exposure [1] and student-authors should wisely avoid this publishing pathway.

While all “professional” journals welcome research contributions from all authors including students and junior scholars,[1] a genuine question arises: why do students decide to publish their research work in MSJs rather than in the “professional” journals? One plausible reason is the challenge put forth by the meticulous scrutiny and critical appraisal (peer review) in professional peer-reviewed journals.[2] However, as opposed to fearing the comments of reviewers in such high caliber entities, medical students should adopt the demeanor of eminent scholars and develop persistence, confidence, and patience to achieve the highest possible goals in any scholarly driven activity.

Many professional and reputed journals, e.g., Journal of Postgraduate Medicine, encourage research submissions from undergraduate students and junior doctors. Moreover, Journal of Postgraduate Medicine has introduced years ago a “student-friendly contribution corner” to specifically solicit research submissions from young student scholars [8] and these submissions undergo the mandatory rigorous peer review.

Medical schools, through curricular and extracurricular schemes, play primary instrumental roles in educating students about the discipline of scientific publishing. The central bodies of Undergraduate Research Committees in medical schools should provide counseling to students to publish only in professional MEDLINE®-indexed journals. Furthermore, they should also highlight the academic perils of publishing in dubious journals. Senior medical students and research mentors should offer helping hands in recommending a handful list of suitable journals for the student-authored research work.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
 :: References Top

1.
Alamri Y. How do medical student journals fare? A global survey of journals run by medical students. Educ Health (Abingdon) 2016;29:136-41.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Bohannon J. Who's afraid of peer review? Science 2013;342:60-5.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Al-Busaidi IS, Alamri Y. Peer review policies in medical student journals. Postgrad Med J 2018;94:362-3.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
U.S. National Library of Medicine. Fact Sheet MEDLINE® Journal Selection [Last accessed on 2019 May 18]. Available from: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/lstrc/jsel.html.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Alnajjar A, Khan TA, Mina S, Alkattan K, Abu-Zaid A. The student-authored biomedical publications at Alfaisal University, Saudi Arabia: A 6-year descriptive analysis. Springerplus 2015;4:754.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Alamodi AA, Abu-Zaid A, Anwer LA, Khan TA, Shareef MA, Shamia AA, et al. Undergraduate research: An innovative student-centered committee from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Med Teach 2014;36:S36-42.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Abu-Zaid A, Bamogaddam I, AlBader L, AlFakhri L, Nurhussen A. A call to encourage curricular research publications by medical students. Int J Med Educ 2016;7:406.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Journal of Postgraduate Medicine. Instructions to Contributors [Revised on 2018 Feb 06; Last accessed on 2019 May 18]. Available from: http://www.jpgmonline.com/contributors.asp.  Back to cited text no. 8
    




 

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