Research Challenges, Medical Journals and their Evaluation

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Professor, Consultant Pathologist, American Board Certified Pathologist, Fellow College of American Pathologists. Areas of interest Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology, Cytology, Cancer, Ethics, Islam, Humanity

Research Challenges, Medical Journals and their Evaluation

Department of Pathology, Azad Jammu & Kashmir Medical College, Azad Jammu & Kashmir University,
Muzaffarabad, Azad Kashmir, Pakistan

Medical Journals are important portal for publishing
and promoting medical research. Publish or perish is the rule in the academic circles. Entire world faces serious problem in generating quality, honest, sincere and useful research. Our “modern” hectic life style is not very conducive for such research as there is widespread indulgence in unnecessary chores, fear of legal actions
giving rise to too defensive and expensive medicine, greed and low ethical & social values that brings a glittering face but dark soul!
In the so called third world countries there are
additional problems. Most of these countries are
dictated by internal and external special interest
groups producing very weak, shabby and shoddy
infrastructure. Merit is generally not upheld in
appointments with devastating results in every
sphere. Constitution, laws and fundamental human
rights are broken at all levels seriously affecting
and eroding research culture. Its therefore not surprising that the medical journals get overall poor quality research papers with pressures to publish them! An honest journal rejects many
papers and makes many enemies. Then there are
factors of liking and disliking, jealousy and favoritism.
Additionally journals in third world countries
encounter financial constrains both from
limited resources and at the same time from
waste of funds due to poor planning and lack of
accountability. Busy doctors have little time at
hospitals to do research and some are too busy in
their private practice to set aside time for genuine
investigations, experimentations and thorough
studies required by painstaking research. To
overcome these difficulties regulatory health bodies
in these countries allocate some funds for research
activities and make it mandatory for every
postgraduate student to undertake a research
project and likewise faculty promotion is coupled
with number of papers being published. This latter
imposition has however its own serious consequences
i.e. churning out third grade or fabricated
research papers by a non interested individual
on the expense of good teaching and excellent
patient care! Numbers rather quality of the
papers are counted. There is hardly any in house
peer review system to judge the performance and
quality of the research! Very few consultant supervisors
give ample time and energy to supervise
student research and help in subsequent
writing theses. Often but not always this results
in sham and substandard “research”!
Many faculty members in order to get promotions
try to publish “papers”, often quite substandard.
Devastating epidemic of guest and
ghost authors is prevalent. Insertion of the name
of the supervisor who contributed nothing at all
and head of the department is almost routine!
“You scratch my back, I yours” formula is quite
prevalent at academic institutions; people insert
their names as authors without doing any substantial
work and at times without even knowing
anything about the research topic. When promotions
are being made on the basis of such bogus
and fraudulent “achievements” only disastrous
can be expected as such blunders are seldom infertile!


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