Bulletin of the World Health Organization

One-journal-for-Medline initiative in Nepal

Langer et al. 2004;82;802-3

Langer et al. argued why research from developing countries is underrepresented in international health literature and what can be done about it (1). In the paper, they identified five factors to explain the reasons: poor research production, poor preparation of manuscripts, poor access to scientific literature, poor participation in publication-related decision-making, and bias of journals.

To get over such poverty, they also proposed five steps. In brief:

  • Continue WHO’s efforts to expand access to primary biomedical information.
  • Collaborate between researchers from industrialized and developing countries.
  • Increase active regional representation on editorial boards.
  • Expand access to scientific literature at free cost.
  • Encourage submissions from developing countries to the special issues of international journals.

All these steps sound reasonable, but these five steps need a laborious input and commitment from industrialized countries, and comparatively less from developing countries. Although the above-mentioned five steps can be effective, we would like to propose a more clear-cut strategy taken by researchers in developing countries.

From our experience in Nepal, we once proposed ‘having one journal in Medline’ can be a specific goal for developing countries to demonstrate their capacity in research (2). Since April 2003, after we published the article ‘One Journal for Medline’ in the Lancet, the Medline editors sent us mails frequently and they also approached the editors of some Nepalese biomedical journals trying to include one Nepalese journal for Medline. After such efforts, one journal, Nepal Medical College Journal, got included in Medline as of December 2003, eight months after our article was published.

In 2002, 133 articles were registered in Medline with a key word Nepal, of which no articles were published from Nepalese journals. However, at the end of 2003, 8 articles (5.0%) in the Nepal Medical College Journal were registered in Medline out of 159 Nepal-related articles. In 2004 again, Medline included 9 articles (6.5%) from the same journal out of 138 as of January 25, 2005. Besides, 10 other articles in 2003 and 9 others in 2004 were registered in Medline from the same journal although these articles did not include the key word Nepal. Our proposed strategy thus can be a driving force for each developing country to increase their researchers’ representation in international health literature. Nepal may need more than one such journal from now on. For other countries which have no such journals, they should aim to have at least one for Medline. Let this Nepal initiative take place in other countries.

Masamine Jimba, Krishna C Poudel, and Susumu Wakai.

REFERENCES:

  • Langer A, Diaz-Olavarrieta C, Berdichevsky K, Villar J. Why is research from developing countries underrepresented in international health literature, and what can be done about it? Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2004;82:802-3.
  • Jimba M, Joshi AB, Sherchand JB, Wakai S. One journal for Medline. Lancet 2003;361:1388-9.

University of Tokyo, Department of International Community Health, 7-3-1, Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo113-0033, Japan (email: mjimba@m.u-tokyo.ac.jp).

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