For the past year or two, a debate in the scientific psychiatric journals has successfully focussed on publishing results from research performed in low- and middle-income countries (in this editorial: non-rich countries). There has been a tendency to discuss the question about how many non-rich country colleagues should be members of advisory boards, how many articles from non-rich countries should be published, etc.
To those responsible for the editorial line of Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica it is a question about quality not quantity. The production of research results from a non-rich country with one psychiatrist per 500 000–1 000 000 inhabitants cannot be expected to reach a quantity comparable with a rich country with one psychiatrist per 5000–10 000 inhabitants.
Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica has always been very pleased to receive, review and publish non-rich country papers, and we shall still welcome such papers in the future. We receive excellent research manuscripts from non-rich countries (as well of dubious quality), just as excellent research papers are submitted from rich countries (as well of dubious quality). Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica has over the past years discussed this theme in more editorials (1–3) just as the journal has taken the initiative to bring a series of editorials discussing the theme of international psychiatric research written by wise and influential colleagues responsible for the politics of the international organizations; until now by Göran Sedvall for the European Association of Psychiatrists (4), and Ahmed Okasha representing the World Psychiatric Association (5).
As mentioned above, Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica has among its publications a relatively high percentage of non-rich country papers and we appreciate the honour of being chosen as the journal where to publish results from research often performed under very difficult conditions. These papers are often of very high quality and originality. As examples from the past year (2003), we should mention, e.g. the study by Richard Uwakwe and John E.N. Okonkwo on affective morbidity in puerperal Nigerian women (6), D. Joel and co-workers’ study about explanatory models of psychoses among community health workers in South India (7), and the study by Venkatasubramanian and co-workers on neurological soft sign in a cohort of never-treated schizophrenia from Bangalore (8).
It is furthermore our attitude that the journal can offer support to promote non-rich country research by having papers reviewed by the most experienced colleagues from the international scientific community, many of whom are extremely generous in offering ‘an extra round’ to improve the quality of papers from non-rich countries to help overcome some of the technicalities connected to giving a paper the highest possible quality.
Further as to this topic, the present editor has personal and scientific benefit from giving courses (also) to non-rich country colleagues about planning and designing psychiatric research project, just as the case when organizing and participating in international multicentre studies covering rich as well as non-rich countries; not at all as an offer to a non-rich country centre but because of the enrichment to projects from research milieus with various and different experiences – rich as well as non-rich.
To conclude, Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica is always pleased and honoured to receive non-rich country as well as rich country papers and publish both of them when originality and quality meet the demands of the journal. We also declare our interest in participating in any initiative taken by organizations and/or individuals aiming at making non-experienced centres, colleagues and organizations develop research activities within the field of mental disorders as long as it will be on these colleagues’ conditions. In these matters, one of Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica's role models is Professor James Tumwine, editing and circulating African Health Sciences (9).
The publisher of Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, Blackwell Publishing is actively reducing the information gap between rich and non-rich countries. Blackwell is supporting the academic community in less well off and developing countries through a number of major funding initiatives in developing world markets:
Ebscohost/Soros Foundation Project
• This database allows electronic access to journals at a substantially reduced rate in 200–300 libraries in eastern Europe.
• Blackwell Publishing is working with the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) to provide sponsored access to journals in poorer countries.
• Blackwell journals have been made available within 32 academic institutions in Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Uganda and Zambia.
• Blackwell Publishing is working with the World Health Organization to offer access to Blackwell's journals to institutions and healthcare professionals in the poorest countries. Access has been made free in the first instance within countries with a GDP under $1000 per annum, and the next phase of the project, which has begun in 2003, will address the needs of the next tier of developing countries. The initiative is known as Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative (HINARI).
From our own world, we can report about a prosperous progress in the year 2003: increasing number of submissions, increasing quality as measured by our impact factor (Fig. 1), a first assessment time from receipt until first qualified response (rejection or invitation to revision) is 3, 4 and 13 weeks indicating the 25, the 50 and 75 percentiles, respectively. Finally, we are also happy to conclude that average publication time from acceptance to circulation is still kept steadily between 4 and 5 months on average.
Two of our board members left us at the end of 2003 and we warmly thank them, Jeffrey Lieberman and Andres Magnusson, for having invested so much work and support in the journal over the years. We are pleased to welcome Donna Wirshing, Los Angeles, USA (various aspects of schizophrenia), Kenneth Kendler, Richmond, USA (psychiatric genetics); Francesc Colom, Barcelona, Spain (various aspects of bipolar disorders); Gin S. Malhi, Sidney, Australia (bipolar disorder and neuroimaging); Arnstein Mykletun, Bergen, Norway (epidemiology and biostatistics), and Lars Kessing, Copenhagen, Denmark (affective disorders) to our board.
With the growth in article downloads witnessed in 2003, the online version of Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica is clearly becoming the preferred edition by readers. In 2002, a total of 48 503 Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica articles were read online for the whole year. In 2003, this number has already been surpassed with 59 120 articles downloaded from http://www.blackwell-synergy.com at the end of September, and an estimate of close to 80 000 articles download for the full year, or approximately 220 articles per day. This is a growth of 65% in online readership from 2002 to 2003.
In 2003, the top three most read articles have been:
1The importance of the QT interval: a review of the literature, by H. Elming, J. Sonne, H. K. F. Lublin, 2003;107:96–101.
2Antipsychotics and QT prolongation, by D. M. Taylor, 2003;107:85–95.
3Inequality and inequity in use of mental health services, by Lars Hansson, 2003;107:161–162.
An article in the online edition of Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica is also increasingly easier for potential readers to find with links from PubMed or ISI Web of Science and even within Synergy, either from articles in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica or other journals that cite Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. Reference lists in each article include links to cited and citing articles:
• Forward links to other articles that cite this article take readers forward in time through the literature.
• CrossRef links take readers to cited articles in other journals.
• Reference, keyword and author links take readers to abstracts in relevant databases, such as PubMed (MEDLINE) and ISI Web of Science.
• Synergy links take readers to cited articles in other issues of their journal.
Synergy has also become easier for researchers and authors to work with through a number of improvements:
• Reference Manager – users can now download the citations for online articles directly into their own reference management software, such as EndNote. This includes the addition of DOIs, article abstracts and the reordering of author names.
• Related Articles – showing the user/researcher other articles, which relate to the one they have retrieved.
• E-Alert improvements – e.g. making sign-up to multiple journals easier, citing article alerts, and improvements to search alerts.