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Keywords:

  • Asia;
  • Oceania;
  • education;
  • gerontology;
  • journals;
  • professional organisations;
  • research

Abstract

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Extending horizons beyond Australia
  4. Current regional reach
  5. Regional content
  6. The regional context
  7. Strategies for advancing the AJA's regional role
  8. Conclusion
  9. Acknowledgements
  10. Key Points
  11. References

The role of the Australasian Journal on Ageing (AJA) in the Asia-Oceania region has been developing over the 30 years of the journal's publication, and review of its current and potential future roles is timely in the context of a number of developments in the region. This review describes the regional reach of the AJA, presents an analysis of regional content published over the 5 years to 2012, discusses the regional context with reference to other journals published in the region, and proposes several strategies for advancing the AJA's regional role. Pursuing these strategies would realise the AJA's potential as a vehicle for promoting the exchange of multidisciplinary knowledge on ageing.


Extending horizons beyond Australia

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Extending horizons beyond Australia
  4. Current regional reach
  5. Regional content
  6. The regional context
  7. Strategies for advancing the AJA's regional role
  8. Conclusion
  9. Acknowledgements
  10. Key Points
  11. References

The Australasian Journal on Ageing (AJA) came into being in February 1998 when Volume 17, No. 1, saw the name change from the Australian Journal on Ageing and signalled a further step in the development of the journal, which had been published since 1982 by the Council on the Ageing Australia (COTA). In 1993, a publication partnership was established between COTA, the Australian Association of Gerontology (AAG), and the Australian Society for Geriatric Medicine (ASGM) to strengthen the academic standard of the AJA and widen its audience.

The name change was a purposeful step towards an enhanced role in the Asia-Oceania region envisaged by incoming editor, Tony Jorm, as one of a number of new directions for the journal set out in his editorial in the last issue for 1997 [1]. A sole New Zealander was then the only regional representative on the 12-member Editorial Board, and Jorm's wider view was given immediate and lasting effect in a reconstituted Editorial Board: as of late 2012, the 13 members of the Board included 3 from New Zealand, 1 from Hong Kong SAR and 1 from China. Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), the body representing not-for-profit aged care providers, also joined the publication partnership in 1997 and new sections on Innovations in Aged Care and a Professional Practice Update soon followed in recognition of a growing readership among providers and practitioners.

Three subsequent developments extended the AJA's regional reach. First, in 2004, publication moved from COTA to Blackwell Publishing Asia, now Wiley-Blackwell. Second, and from the same time, online publication through Blackwell Synergy, now Wiley Online Library, facilitated access and added a number of reference links and search features. Third, the AJA was Medline listed from 2008, adding significantly to the abstracting and indexing services, which already covered the journal. By mid-2013, the AJA had achieved an impact factor of 0.94, and ranked 16th out of 30 gerontology journals and 38th out of 46 geriatrics journals rated by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) [2].

A number of more recent initiatives also bring the AJA into focus in the Asia-Oceania region of the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics (IAGG). Beyond the Oceania member countries of Australia and New Zealand, the Asia component of the region is very diverse, comprising member organisations in Japan, already one of the world's oldest countries, the rapidly ageing countries of China, Hong Kong SAR, Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan, and still young India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, the Philippines, and Thailand. A report on advancing Australia's research agenda for ageing well, released by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in 2011, noted ‘that this national research agenda should consider Australia's research priorities in relation to global priorities in ageing research and advances in research and analysis, and should enable international collaboration and comparisons [3]. One emerging avenue for collaboration is the Global Ageing Research Network initiated by the IAGG in 2010 which has attracted 85 individual members from the region. Another is the Special Interest Group established within the AAG in mid-2012 to promote exchange among AAG members interested in research and education in ageing in the Asia-Oceania region. These initiatives all come within the wider scope of the Australian Government's White Paper on Australia in the Asian Century [4] released in late 2012. Noting population ageing as one of the major social changes occurring in conjunction with rapid economic development in many Asian countries, the White Paper makes several mentions of health and aged care as areas in which of Australian expertise can provide the base for building broader relationships across the region.

Continuing development of the AJA as an international journal focused on the Asia-Oceania region has been anticipated by current editor Lynne Parkinson in outlining the Journal's mission for the triennium starting in 2012 [5]. With the Victorian Division of the AAG hosting the Asia-Oceania Regional Congress of the IAGG in Melbourne in October 2011, and the IAGG World Congress held in Seoul, South Korea, in June 2013, it is timely to review the AJA's current regional role and how it might develop into the future.

Current regional reach

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Extending horizons beyond Australia
  4. Current regional reach
  5. Regional content
  6. The regional context
  7. Strategies for advancing the AJA's regional role
  8. Conclusion
  9. Acknowledgements
  10. Key Points
  11. References

The reach of the AJA in the Asia-Oceania region is seen in figures provided by the publisher on subscribers, libraries with licensed access, institutional subscriptions and electronic access [6].

As of 2011, the AJA had some 12 000 subscribers. Of these, 4286 were libraries with licensed sales access, and 3811 were institutions in developing countries with access through philanthropic initiatives. Some 11% of licensed sales were in Australia and New Zealand, 5% in Japan and 1% in China; the major shares were Europe (33%) and the USA (16%), with the UK accounting for only 3%.

The significance of electronic access is clearly evident in the number of full-text downloads reaching close to 70 000 in 2012, double the number in 2009. Just over one-third of this online access was from Australia, and Asian countries accounted for 10%, with the 2.5% share from New Zealand reflecting its smaller population. The remaining major shares went to English-speaking readerships in the USA (28%), followed by the UK (7%) and Canada (3%), then European countries (11%) and the small remainder from the rest of the world (4%).

Regional content

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Extending horizons beyond Australia
  4. Current regional reach
  5. Regional content
  6. The regional context
  7. Strategies for advancing the AJA's regional role
  8. Conclusion
  9. Acknowledgements
  10. Key Points
  11. References

Regional content and authors who gave regional institutional affiliations outside Australia were identified in a review of the 20 issues of the AJA published over the 5 years 2008–2012. This approach meant that authors from regional countries working in Australia and Australians working in the region were identified, and particular attention was given to identifying comparative and collaborative studies across countries.

Two exclusions warrant note. First, the single special issue published during the review period was not included as all papers were by Australian authors and findings were from research funded through the Ageing Well Ageing Productively initiative of the Australian NHMRC [7]. Second, papers on ageing in Asian communities in Australia, by Australian authors, were excluded. However, in recognition that this body of research provides a bridge to regional countries, reports from regional authors working in Australia on topics relating to their respective communities were included.

The 18 original papers with regional content and/or by regional authors accounted for close to 10% of the total of some 200 original items published over the last 5 years (excluding book reviews). As summarised in Table 1, these papers comprised 13 research papers, 1 policy and practice update, 1 brief report and 3 letters.

Table 1. Regional content published in the Australasian Journal on Ageing, 2008–2012
Country/countries of studyCountry/countries of authors/topic by field of research (Type of contribution-Research if not stated)
 Social aspects of ageing including healthy ageingAged care and health services and systemsClinical
New Zealand

NZ. Older drivers (Policy and practice update) [8]

New Zealand/Australia: NZ and AUS. U3A and older volunteers [9]

New Zealand: NZ. Activities of older Maori and non-Maori [10]

NZ/Australia/ UK/Spain: NZ and UK, Comparison of LTC resident dependency [11]New Zealand: NZ. Osteoporotic fracture (Letter) [12]
Japan/Australia 

Japan and AUS. Comparative study of policy issues [13]

Japan/Australia: Japan and AUS. Collaborative development of care planning assessment tool [14]

Japan: Japan. Pneumonia, case study (Letter) [15]

Japan: Japan. Osteoarthritis (Brief Report) [16]

Japan: Japan/US. Physical activity intervention/US as paper has US co-authors [17]

China and Hong Kong

China: China and US. Widowhood and health [18]

China: China and US. Workforce participation [19]

China: China and US. Intergenerational support [20]

Hong Kong/China: HK and China. Comparative study of rural/urban health status and health systems [21] 
Other Asian countries

Singapore: Singapore and US. Caregiver time [22]

Taiwan: Taiwan. Exercise and lifestyle [23]

 

Korea: Korea. Metabolism [24]

Vietnam: Australia. Clinical education (Letter) [25]

New Zealand authors reporting research in New Zealand accounted for four papers [8-11], one with co-authors from Australia and another with UK co-authors, and a letter [11]. The five contributions from Japan were two papers with Australian co-authors [13, 14], two from Japanese authors and one with US co-authors [15-17]. Next, four papers on topics in China and Hong Kong came from authors in those countries, three with US co-authors [18-20], and one a comparative study [21]. The remaining single contributions came from Singapore, with US co-authors [22], Taiwan, and Korea [23, 24], and an Australian writing on Vietnam [25]. Across all these papers, eight dealt with social gerontology topics in the authors' countries, the four papers on aged care and health-care systems were all comparative studies and none of the six clinical topics were country specific.

Regional coverage appears set to grow and diversify. Submissions from authors in regional countries have increased from around only 9% in 2009 to around a third currently [4], but the acceptance rate remains well below the share of submissions. With the AJA rejection rate now at 70% overall [26], the need is for a ‘virtuous cycle’ of a sustained flow of high-quality submissions from regional authors, resulting in increased regional content, and continuing improvement in the AJA's impact factor, in turn attracting further high-standard submissions. The Early View of papers already accepted for publication through 2013 shows some diversification of countries represented, with papers from Malaysia and Thailand, as well as a continuing New Zealand presence [27, 28].

The regional context

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Extending horizons beyond Australia
  4. Current regional reach
  5. Regional content
  6. The regional context
  7. Strategies for advancing the AJA's regional role
  8. Conclusion
  9. Acknowledgements
  10. Key Points
  11. References

Three contextual factors to be taken into account in assessing the AJA's regional role are the definition of the region it is to serve, its relationship to the other journals published in the region, and affiliations with professional associations.

The adoption of Australasia in the journal title to signal the wider reach of the AJA may be a source of confusion. While the term strictly applies to Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea and neighbouring islands of the Pacific, Jorm made it clear that the name change aimed further than a trans-Tasman alliance and argued that Australasia suggested a broader connection of Australia with Asia. But such a connection is at odds with the origin of the term coined in 1756 by the French geographer Charles de Brosse to differentiate this part of Oceania from Polynesia, Micronesia and Magellanica. Australasia has never had a wider meaning in historical or political geography, and the extent to which contemporary interpretations in Australia and elsewhere extend to include Asia remains a matter of conjecture.

Any alternative name for the AJA has to be considered in the context of other regional journals published in English. The summary of eight such journals in Table 2 points to a dynamic scene with three new entrants since 2010. Together with the AJA, these journals can be seen as complementing rather than competing with those published in national languages as authors are likely to submit material to the journal that will best reach the audience they are seeking to inform, and make the most direct contribution to the field in their own country. The dominance of clinically focused material suggests the AJA might develop a distinctive role as an outlet for social, behavioural and policy research. To the extent that research in these fields in less developed countries in the region might otherwise be published in public health, demography or social policy journals, the AJA could gain a competitive edge and bring this research into the international gerontological literature.

Table 2. Gerontology and geriatrics journals published in English in the Asia-Oceania region of the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics
TitleCountryPublished byDate of first issue and issues p.a.Focus of content, countries of origin of authors, Editorial Board and website
Hallym International J of AgingKoreaHallym University

1998

Ceased 2010

Multidisciplinary, focused on international research of relevance to Korea

International authors

International Editorial Board

Gerontology and Geriatrics InternationalJapanJapan Geriatrics Society

2000

4 issues p.a.

Multidisciplinary, but content mainly geriatric medicine and clinical gerontology

International contributors

International Editorial Board

Asian J of Gerontology and GeriatricsHong Kong SARHK Geriatrics Society and HK Assoc. of Gerontology

2006 (previously HK J of Gerontology)

2 issues p.a.

Multidisciplinary, but mainly clinical and aged care topics.

Authors mainly from HK and increasingly from the rest of China

International Editorial Board

Chinese J of GeriatricsChinaChina Medical Assoc

1989

Monthly

Short papers on clinical topics in geriatric medicine, translated from Chinese

Indian J of GerontologyIndiaIndian Gerontology Assoc

1986 (in current format)

4 issues p.a.

Interdisciplinary, mainly social and behavioural

International authors

J Indian Academy of GeriatricsIndiaIndian Academy of Geriatrics

2012

4 issues p.a.

Clinical geriatrics and biomedical topics

Indian Executive

Indian J Geriatric CareIndiaGeriatric Society of India

2012

3 issues p.a.

Clinical geriatrics and biomedical topics

Indian Executive and Advisors

J Clinical Gerontology and GeriatricsTaiwanAsia-Pacific League of Gerontology and Geriatrics

2010

4 issues p.a.

Multidisciplinary, with focus on clinical epidemiology and translational medicine

International authors

International Editorial Board

The AJA's Editorial Board has included regional members for some years, but there were no affiliations with national gerontology associations outside Australia until 2006 when the ASGM amalgamated with its New Zealand counterpart to form the Australian and New Zealand Society for Geriatric Medicine (ANZSGM). Formal links have yet to be made with the New Zealand Association of Gerontology (NZAG). The AJA Management Committee remains Australia centric compared to a number of other journals such as the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health and the ANZ Journal of Psychiatry, which are published by the respective trans-Tasman professional associations. Even more broadly, the Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health is published in conjunction with the Asia Pacific Academic Consortium for Public Health that has 21 member universities in developed and developing countries in the region and an even wider International Advisory Board.

Strategies for advancing the AJA's regional role

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Extending horizons beyond Australia
  4. Current regional reach
  5. Regional content
  6. The regional context
  7. Strategies for advancing the AJA's regional role
  8. Conclusion
  9. Acknowledgements
  10. Key Points
  11. References

Continuing growth in subscriptions and especially electronic access has widened the AJA's regional reach, and the challenge is now to increase the depth of the journal's regional role. A number of different strategies can be proposed to this end.

First, two sources of potential papers might be tapped. Review of the abstracts of annual national conferences of the AAG found that few of the presentations from outside Australia proceeded to publication in the AJA. Further potential authors are the members of the IAGG Global Research Network who belong to professional associations in countries in the region. An open invitation could be issued to all conference presenters and network members to submit papers, subject to the standard peer review process (AAG conference abstracts are published as supplements to the AJA but without editorial input), accompanied by a short survey to investigate where they currently publish and which journals they subscribe to or access electronically.

Second, sets of papers could be published as Regional Forums, drawing together submitted and invited papers to highlight regional contributions. Forums made up of papers on different topics from one country, or on the same topic across a number of countries, provide a more feasible alternative to Special Issues. A model for this approach is seen in the four papers grouped in a section on ‘Ageing in Asia’ in the Special Issue of the AJA published jointly with the Hong Kong Journal of Gerontology (Vol. 15, No. 2, May 1996). Rather than relying on submissions, leading Australian researchers could be invited to convene forums with regional colleagues, possibly drawing on symposia organised at IAGG regional and world congresses.

The time to expand the AJA's links with the Asia-Oceania regional body of the IAGG may have come with representatives of the AAG taking up the positions of President and Secretary Elect in 2013, and so able to give the AJA partnership a voice. A priority is to follow up the possibility of an official IAGG journal in the Asia-Oceania region, flagged in the IAGG Newsletter in March 2012. An alternative approach to endorsing a single journal would be to promote the journals already published by regional members on the IAGG website (http://www.iagg.info), which at present gives access to only four European and US-based journals that have official IAGG endorsement. A consultative group of editors might also be formed to develop a policy on providing free subscriptions for online access in developing countries, not only in the Asia-Oceania region.

Third, the AJA publishes Position Statements of the partner organisations. To date, have all been based in Australian practice, but it is expected that future Position Statements will give wider regional coverage. As Position Statements deal with clinical guidelines, best practice and policy issues, they must necessarily be set in national legislative and service contexts, but the partners could pursue opportunities for collaboration with IAGG member organisations on topics of shared concern. Common British origins in educational institutions and health and aged care systems in Singapore and Hong Kong have provided a foundation for exchanges with Australia that could inform Position Statements, and similar exchanges are now extending to other countries. Position Statements could be further disseminated through Wiley's Asia-Pacific Geriatrics Newsletter (http://www.wileyonlinelibrary.com/subject/geriatrics), which gives access to the AJA and Geriatrics and Gerontology International. This electronic newsletter began in early 2010 and by December 2010 was sent to almost 4500 clinicians and researchers, demonstrating the impact of electronic access.

Fourth, as the goal of increasing awareness of the AJA and attracting submissions goes hand in hand with increasing subscriptions and access, approaches could be made to other national associations across the region to promote the journal among their members. Discounted subscription to the AJA is an optional adjunct to membership of the partner organisations, and similar arrangements might be sought with other associations. The NZAG stands out as a prime candidate as it does not publish its own journal; others are the Singaporean and Malaysian gerontology societies. The attraction of discounted electronic subscription may however have been pre-empted where professionals already have free access via library and philanthropic subscriptions.

Fifth, far more of the books reviewed and reviewers have been from Europe or North America than regional countries other than Australia; only one regional reviewer of an Australian volume [29] and one review of a book with regional content [30] were identified over the 5 years under review. The conspicuous absence of regional book reviews and reviewers needs to be addressed. As well as taking action to attract the interest of publishers in the region, guidelines could usefully prompt reviewers to draw out implications for other countries in all reviews.

Finally, the present review may not have identified all regional materials, as Australia may have been taken as an author's country by default where overseas researchers working in Australia have given their affiliation as their Australian host institution. The simple step of including the country of a study in the key words would ensure ready recognition of all regional contributions, especially in electronic searches, and detailing full affiliations of all authors would ensure accurate identification of their countries of origin.

Conclusion

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Extending horizons beyond Australia
  4. Current regional reach
  5. Regional content
  6. The regional context
  7. Strategies for advancing the AJA's regional role
  8. Conclusion
  9. Acknowledgements
  10. Key Points
  11. References

Although it is the longest standing English language journal on ageing in the Asia-Oceania region, it has to be concluded that the AJA has yet to realise the full potential of its regional role. The AJA is well placed to expand its role in promoting the development and exchange of multidisciplinary knowledge on ageing as it covers a broader spectrum of research than the other regionally based journals. Continuing this effort is increasingly important as the ongoing growth of research and teaching in gerontology and geriatrics throughout the region needs to be supported by a high-quality journal in which the diverse experiences of ageing can be reported and professional development can be promoted.

The AJA has played a significant role of this kind in supporting the development of geriatrics and gerontology in Australia from the early 1980s. By providing a peer-reviewed publication for the emerging field, the AJA generated a body of local research and reports on a wide range of issues of ageing in Australia. It has also demonstrated a capacity to form partnerships with organisation in the field in Australia as a means to reaching different audiences. The opportunity now exists for the AJA to add depth to its virtual reach across the region, and, in the process, further internationalise both its content and readership. Forming alliances across the Asia-Oceania region of the IAGG is a critical step to achieving this goal. Pursuing this goal is not only a matter for the Editor, the members of the Editorial Board, the Committee of Management and the publisher, but is an endeavour that should engage all those who write for and read the AJA.

Acknowledgements

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Extending horizons beyond Australia
  4. Current regional reach
  5. Regional content
  6. The regional context
  7. Strategies for advancing the AJA's regional role
  8. Conclusion
  9. Acknowledgements
  10. Key Points
  11. References

Tom Griffin of Wiley-Blackwell, Assoc-Prof Yun-Hee Jeon and Dr Sara Graham are thanked for their comments on a draft of this paper. The paper has also benefitted from discussion with a number of others following presentation at the 2012 AAG National Conference in Brisbane.

Editor Lynne Parkinson provided comment on an early draft of the paper. She was therefore not involved in the journal peer review process.

Key Points

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Extending horizons beyond Australia
  4. Current regional reach
  5. Regional content
  6. The regional context
  7. Strategies for advancing the AJA's regional role
  8. Conclusion
  9. Acknowledgements
  10. Key Points
  11. References
  • Electronic access has especially expanded the reach of the AJA across the Asia-Oceania Region.
  • Papers by authors from the region and/or on topics about regional countries accounted for only 10% of all original papers published over the 5 years to 2012.
  • A number of strategies are proposed for developing the AJA's regional role and realising its full potential.

References

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Extending horizons beyond Australia
  4. Current regional reach
  5. Regional content
  6. The regional context
  7. Strategies for advancing the AJA's regional role
  8. Conclusion
  9. Acknowledgements
  10. Key Points
  11. References