• Open Access

In this Issue


In October 2001, at the start of an Australian election campaign, people were shocked by claims that refugees arriving in Australia by boat were so desperate for asylum that, when confronted, they threw their children overboard, presumably to make their plight more explicit. These claims were false. Ten years later we need to remember how damaging these reports were. We need to make sure we do not fall into that trap again. Our two editorials address this topic. Jon Jureidini and Julian Burnside argue that we are mistreating refugees, many of them are children. Jeanne Daly and Gavin Mooney reflect on some other 2011 anniversaries to argue that we should learn from the past. Their list includes the events of 11 September 2001. Following the editorials is a section, edited by Gavin Mooney, that gives us a range of international views on 9/11, ten years on.

Then we return to important local issues starting with Food and Drink. Julie Henderson and colleagues report that farmers are a more trusted source of information on food than the media, or politicians. Young people are especially distrustful of the media, a finding that may be relevant to the work of Catriona Bonfiglioli and colleagues who show that media reports of sweet, non-alcoholic drinks emphasise how healthy they are, especially if fruit is a constituent.

The section on Indigenous Health starts with a study by Kaarin Anstey and colleagues that analyses Australian longitudinal studies of ageing and shows that we lack information on the experience of older Indigenous Australians. Where we do have evidence, for example from the NSW Midwives Data Collection, the plight of young pregnant Aboriginal women is evident, argue Aaron P. Thrift and colleagues, especially with regard to smoking. Sandra Campbell and colleagues similarly show that high rates of sexually transmitted disease together with risky drinking predict miscarriage in young Indigenous women.

Under Injury, reflecting some of the concerns of the previous section, Pauline J. Gulliver and New Zealand colleagues show just how difficult it is to adjust existing datasets to get a more reliable estimate of Maori ethnicity in order to link it to injury. There is the promise of good news in the next article. Sandar Tin Tin and colleagues show that bicycle riding becomes safer the more we ride our bicycles.

The risk from using Tobacco is a constant theme. Nick Wilson and colleagues report that smokers see menthol cigarettes as safer than they are. Is it time to ban menthol as an additive? Smokers often want to quit smoking, but they need help to do so and Jae Cooper and colleagues argue that we should expand the services available to them.

Under Chronic Illnesses Anthony Hogan and co-authors demonstrate that hearing loss in children puts them at risk of mental health disorders. Andrew Armstrong and colleagues report that some people with common chronic illnesses also use complementary and alternative medicines, with the risk of interactions with prescribed pharmaceuticals.

In Letters to the Editor, there are important short reports. We also recommend the book reviews, which are especially relevant to people teaching public health.

The Journal Impact Factor

This Journal has increased its Impact Factor for 2010 to 1.529, up from 1.349 the year before. We thank authors who cited our articles to contribute to this result.

The Journal Impact Factor is roundly criticised by colleagues who argue that too much weight is attached to its simple numeric value. On the other hand, these criticisms tend to come from colleagues whose careers are assured and we cannot overlook the fact that Journal Impact Factors are important for colleagues still building their careers.

It is worth reiterating what the Impact Factor means. It is calculated by counting the number of citations in 2010 to articles published in a journal in the previous two years (2008 and 2009) and dividing it by the number of substantive articles published in the same time period. Clearly, articles do not contribute equally to the citation rate. Far too many of our articles are never cited so our citation rate often depends on a small number of key articles – and you can check these on our website. A difficulty here is that citations to some of our most important articles, from a policy perspective, fall outside the given dates and so do not contribute to the citation numbers.

So what can we do to maintain a good Impact Factor? We need to pay attention to key articles in a more timely way. We can give our articles greater relevance outside Australia and New Zealand by emphasising the implications of a study for public health internationally. Some articles are cited after they are identified in an electronic search. We encourage authors to construct informative titles and abstracts to entice the casual reader to read the full article. The day of a title posing a question (“Is there light at the end of the tunnel for XXX research?”) is well and truly past!

Our hope is that citations flow to articles that make a sound contribution to public health evidence and practice. When we select articles for publication we focus on methodological rigour as well as relevance to public health. The methods editorials listed on the Journal website show our preferences. We are hesitant about mixed methods studies that do not adequately justify each of the methods used, and this can be a big ask. We prefer systematic reviews to narrative reviews, and a review should include criteria for assessing the quality of the articles selected for review. Lastly, we prefer qualitative studies that show how and why quotations are selected, and that explain the significance of a selected set of quotations.