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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 579-581  

New journals and Catch 22

Department of Community Medicine, Dr. D. Y. Patil Medical College, Hospital and Research Centre, Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Pune - 411 018, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication10-Sep-2015

Correspondence Address:
Amitav Banerjee
Department of Community Medicine, Dr. D. Y. Patil Medical College, Hospital and Research Centre, Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Pune - 411 018, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0975-2870.164945

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How to cite this article:
Banerjee A. New journals and Catch 22. Med J DY Patil Univ 2015;8:579-81

How to cite this URL:
Banerjee A. New journals and Catch 22. Med J DY Patil Univ [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 Sep 20];8:579-81. Available from:

Time and again as an editor of this journal I am asked, "When is the journal going to be indexed in PubMed? When are you likely to get an "Impact Factor?" The frequency of the second question did not come down even after an editorial on the topic.[1] Just shows that the editorials are being taken with a pinch of salt or not at all.

New journals, even if they ensure high publishing standards face an uphill task for recognition. The authors hesitate to submit their best work to new journals. Joseph Heller introduced the term "Catch 22" in his famous novel of the same name, a satire on the military bureaucracy during the Second World War. One of the best examples of the "Catch 22" situation in the book is the rule, where a pilot to avoid flying dangerous missions could make a plea of insanity. However, the very fact that he thinks that the mission is hazardous establishes his sanity since an insane man will not have this insight. Being sane disqualifies his plea of insanity, and so he continues to fly.[2] So, popular was the book that the word "Catch 22" entered the English language dictionaries to mean paradoxical situations from which an individual cannot escape because of contradictory rules.

A new journal gets caught in this paradox. Being new and not very well-known authors hesitate to submit their best papers. If the best papers are not submitted, it will take longer to get recognition and the impact factor. Catch 22!!

We would like to inform the authors how their manuscripts are processed after they submit them to our journal. We hope by doing this, we will reassure our authors that their valuable research work gets the benefit of review by subject experts drawn from across the globe.

How do we select the reviewers in the era of specialization and super-specialization? Besides, within each specialty/super-specialty there are different areas of expertise. Advances in medicine are rapid. Specialists and super-specialists tend to know more and more about less and less. In such challenging times, we resort to the information highway.

We use the internet to establish a global network of subject experts. This network keeps growing with each submitted manuscript. Networks possess intelligence more than the sum of their parts.[3] At the time of writing, we have been able to approach over 2000 reviewers from over 70 countries.

Whenever, a new manuscript is submitted to the journal after initial scrutiny by the editor it is sent to two or more external referees for peer review. The reviewers are not from the same institution as the authors. The identities of the referees are not known to the authors, and similarly the referees do not know the identity of the authors of a particular manuscript. This double-blind peer review ensures a fair assessment of the paper without fear or favor. In addition, the reviewers are asked to disclose a conflict of interest if any.

How do we choose the reviewers? The authors have the option to recommend reviewers. However, it is not binding for us to follow the authors' recommendation. In case we do so, we ensure that the paper is also reviewed by other reviewers not known to the authors. Sometimes, particularly when the field of work is very specialized and restricted the recommendation of referees by the authors comes handy. However, in routine cases we select the referees from the references cited in the manuscript. Our insistence that authors cite the latest references also ensures that we are able to select those subject experts who are presently engaged in active research in their area of expertise. We also supplement this search of referees by feeding the keywords provided by the authors in PubMed and scanning downloads for authors of similar papers which can be potential reviewers. Most journals insist that the main author(s) of a paper mention their corresponding address with their E-mails. This enables us to send an invitation mail to the authors inviting them to review a particular paper in their area of expertise.

Having as many reviewers for a submitted manuscript as we can access by above means besides ensuring a fair and unbiased review also enables the exchange of ideas and concepts beyond national boundaries. It is very satisfying for the editorial staff when encouraging comments for a particular paper is received from an eminent expert. We also have a policy whereby a reviewer has the option to write a commentary on the paper reviewed by him or her. We publish this along with the original manuscript. This practice, besides bringing out the finer nuances of the topic, inspires our authors and readers.

In spite of our apprehensions that authors might be hesitant to submit their best papers the journal has performed reasonably well over the past 3 years or so. We started regular issues in the year of 2012 with two issues. This was increased to four issues in the year of 2013. Since the year 2014, we are publishing six issues in a year. On an average, we have about 40 papers in each issue.

The number of papers submitted over the years has also increased. As on date, we have over 1000 authors from different countries. Overall 11% of all papers submitted so far are from abroad whereas 16% of original articles are from authors from outside India.

It was a red letter day for our journal when in the year 2014 one of the articles[4] published in our journal made it to the top 10 in popularity according to views and downloads out of the total portfolio of 357 journals published by Medknow. The paper published in our journal was the 3rd most accessed in the year. When seen in the context that our journal got its act together just 3 years ago and the portfolio of our publishers include some very old and established journals, many with impact factor, this is a matter of great pride for us.

Our journal has a very author friendly policy. We are not charging any publication fees from the authors in spite of following the "Gold Open Access Model."[5] Usually in Gold Open Access publishing the reader is not charged, but the cost of publication is recovered from the authors in the form of publication fees which can be considerable depending on the journal. The cost of publishing and printing the journal is borne by Dr. DY Patil Vidyapeeth (University), Pune. This is a commendable and selfless policy by the university to encourage publication of the medical research. Most research in developing countries is carried out on shoestring budgets, and research grants may not cover the publication costs. Authors in developing countries can ill afford to pay publications costs that can be considerable in the gold open access model.

While assessing the manuscripts, we do not discriminate between authors from our institution and other institutions or countries. Papers are published on merit. Since the journal is open access, the published papers achieve instant visibility.

We endeavor to answer any query by the authors within 24 h. We realize that our authors are mostly busy clinicians. They can devote very little time for writing. Most are not conversant with proper scientific writing. Another paradox, we have observed is that the busier the clinician with a wealth of clinical material the poorer the writing (we do not mean handwriting!). Those who can devote time to writing may be those with less busy clinical practice and may be contributing less innovative clinical insights to the medical literature. Catch 22!! To cope with this paradox, the editorial staff puts in their best efforts to refine the manuscripts submitted by experienced clinicians with limited writing experience. Besides the content, which is reviewed by the subject experts, we have a team of dedicated technical and production editors who check for language, grammar, citation of references, and other details.

Perhaps our strongest feature is unrestricted sharing of views and opinions on our growing network of the worldwide reviewers. The themes of the submitted manuscripts dictate the search of reviewers unrestricted by national boundaries. This brings together people working on similar themes across the globe. This network of authors, reviewers, and readers word wide is self-organizing and thrives by having limited central control (the editorial team only acts as facilitators bringing subject experts together for healthy debate and exchange of ideas). The freedom and power of the internet are used to its full potential for creating as enabling an environment possible for the free flow of ideas.

In spite of our best efforts, we are not infallible. We are quick to admit our errors in the form of the erratum, publishing critical "letters to the editor" and even resorting to retraction of papers in case of breach of publication ethics such as plagiarism. This is the best policy for success in the age of transparency dictated by the digital revolution. Success is not fancy packaging and carefully doctored promotions.[3] The most essential qualities we stress upon are transparency, honesty, and credibility. These qualities we also demand of our authors, reviewers, and readers.[6]

We hope this editorial attracts the best authors and reviewers from across the globe and enable the journal to achieve excellence. We expect PubMed indexing in due course with retrospective effect from 2012. In the interim, let us together put in our best efforts. Let us give, before we receive and break the vicious paradox of Catch 22.


The Editorial Board of the journal appreciates the constant support and encouragement it has received from Dr. P D Patil, Honourable President, Dr. DY Patil Vidyapeeth Society, Pune, and Smt Bhagyashree Patil, Vice Chairperson, Dr. DY Patil Vidyapeeth Society, Pune, to strive to bring up the journal to international standards. They have been promptly sanctioning the increasing costs of bringing out six, rather bulky, issues of the journal annually.

  References Top

Banerjee A. What is the impact factor of your journal? Med J DY Patil Univ 2015;8:1-2.  Back to cited text no. 1
  Medknow Journal  
Heller J. Catch 22. Anniversary Edition. St. Louis, MO, USA: Turtleback Books; 2011.  Back to cited text no. 2
Stibel J. Breakpoint. New York: Palgrave MacMillan; 2013.  Back to cited text no. 3
Kalathia MB, Parikh YN, Parmar PN, Verma SS. Rare cause of pediatric obesity: Bardet — Biedl syndrome. Med J DY Patil Univ (Serial Online) 2014;7:198-200. Available from: [Last accessed on 2015 May 23; Last cited on 2015 May 23].  Back to cited text no. 4
Jeffery KG. Open Access: An Introduction. ERCIM News, No. 64; 16-17 January, 2006. Available from: [Last accessed on 2015 May 24].  Back to cited text no. 5
Banerjee A. Coping with academic anarchy: An appeal to reviewers, authors and readers to raise the bar. Med J DY Patil Univ (Serial Online) 2014;7:541-2. Available from: [Last accessed on 2015 May 23; Last cited on 2015 May 23]  Back to cited text no. 6

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1 A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single stepůmiles to go!
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