Thoughts for an Ending – Part 2

Jose Ma. C. Avila, MD

I am grateful to the wonderful Deans and Chancellors that I have gone through in the ten or so years I have been Editor-in-Chief of the Acta. Grateful that they have not interfered in the editorial process and maintained the independence of the journal, allowing it to flourish and seek its own identity all these years. Never have I received a call or note from any one of them, asking me to facilitate the publication of an article of a faculty member or researcher. In my earlier years as a member of the WPRIM (Western Pacific Regional Index Medicus), I have heard of horror stories from editors of other countries where their publishers and bosses have pressured them to publish certain articles, or to insert particular names as authors, despite the absence of any contribution to the articles at hand. To Deans Cecilia V. Tomas, Alberto B. Roxas and Agnes D.Mejia; Chancellors Ramon L. Arcadio, Manuel B. Agulto and Carmencita D. Padilla; I salute you all and share with you Acta’s continuing success. I also am eternally grateful to my Acta editorial team (Marj, Jun, Abbey, Onin, Arianne, and Jhong); without them and their trust, none of this would have been possible.

I have to mention that it was PCHRD Director Jaime C. Montoya’s vision for the Acta that led me to this journey. I still remember the day many years ago when he visited me in my office and gave me a most encouraging and almost emotional “vision” for research and publication in this country, and how he thought Acta Medica Philippina was already in position to champion this cause and his confidence in me and the system that it can be done, despite my strong objections and pessimism. And true enough, the Acta is now at the forefront of publications in the medical sciences in this country. As of this time, we have been receiving many requests from major health agencies, both private and government, to serve as a venue for their research and publications. Never have I imagined or dreamed that this day will come.

As I look back at the state of medical journalism and publications, and the trials and tribulations of editors and medical writers in the country, I realize that what is truly lacking is the recognition that our researchers deserve. While there have been cash awards, and certificates that are starting to be given to these individuals, these are not enough to encourage more people to devote more time and effort to do research and publish their findings. Government must provide the best possible environment to do research, with adequate funding, compensation and opportunities for advancement, enough to make a decent living just doing what some people do best: to further the country’s research agenda, and to publish. And let us not forget peer reviewers and members of the medical journalism team, who are crucial in providing the backbone for all this.

Without a good editor, editorial board, associate and assistant editors, copy-editors and peer reviewers, all these efforts shall be in vain.

The days of virtual editorial offices, where there is one part time editor, one secretary, one assistant editor and a computer in a small booth they call an office, with left-over budget scraps must end. Let us professionalize the system of medical journalism in this country once and for all. I know of many medical editors who still work under these primitive and “impossible” conditions.

I leave Acta Medica Philippina, the National Health Science Journal, published quarterly, indexed in Sci-Verse Scopus (and soon, two other international indexing services), with an impact factor (Hirsch Index), open access, with apps in both Apple and Android (with full text function) with a heavy heart, but optimistic that with a new editor, it shall continue to be at the forefront of medical publication in this country.

Jose Ma. C. Avila, MD