In 1964 when I returned from USA, I was invited by my friends and colleagues working for JPMA to join them. Since them I have been associated with JPMA in one or other capacity.
As a team the top priority in the nineteen- sixties was to streamline and strengthen the peer review system. A panel of reviewers was established and efforts were made to help the authors in making the necessary changes which the reviewers recommended. At times this help extended to helping the authors rewriting the article.
The second priority issue was financial. As the official publication of Pakistan Medical Association, JPMA was the major source of income of PMA (Central). Thus, the major interest of the PMA (Central) office bearers was the revenue generated by JPMA through advertisements. The editorial standards of the publication was less important. This situation continues till today, although to a lesser extent.
In sixties and seventies the paid staff consisted of an assistant who was responsible for all correspondence, getting advertisements, taking the material to the press, proof reading, and finally dispatching the Journal. The only other staff member was a peon cum dispatch rider, for which he was provided a bicycle. All the income of the journal went to the central office and the journal was provided a meagre budget which covered the staff pay, printing and dispatching costs. At times the extent of financial control reached absurd limits.
The financial issues relating to JPMA have continued. In 1990,s the Editorial Board decided that JPMA charge the authors for printing the accepted articles. This has allowed JPMA to raise non advertisement funds to help meet some of its expenses.
Those who have not worked for JPMA do not realise that the Editorial staff works without any remuneration. Work for JPMA has always been an unrequited labour of love and continues to remain the same.
Over the years the time and energy that the handful of individuals have spent on keeping JPMA going is not fully appreciated by the profession. Amongst the persons who have made contributions in upgrading the status of the journal, Sarwar Zuberi stands above all others. But for her dedicated and relentless pursuit of standards JPMA would not be an indexed journal. She was able to gather around her a group of committed young ladies, who have carried on her mission with equal zeal.
Sarwar Zuberi was also able to establish a working relationship with the PMA office bearers which made it possible to improve the financial position of the Journal.
For the future it is necessary that JPMA has some fulltime editorial staff. For how long should we expect that a group of dedicated volunteers will be available to run JPMA. A group who will take time out of their professional work and do the arduous task of editing JPMA. It is unfair to impose this burden on the few who wish JPMA to remain a journal of repute.
JPMA needs full time medically qualified editors. Since at the moment, there are no professional medical writers in Pakistan, JPMA should start a trainee programme and produce individuals who will take the responsibility of editing JPMA. For this JPMA will have to find additional funds. Ultimately JPMA has to become financially independent, only then will it be able to thrive.
This journal is a member of and subscribes to the principles of the Committee on Publication Ethics.