For most equine practitioners, the AAEP is their main source for continuing education. For them, no other meeting, organisation or journal, covers the spectrum of equine-related information they want like the AAEP. The benefits of the AAEP Annual Convention and Proceedings book are also important to others including researchers, educators and specialists.
For many years, Frank Milne served as the editor of the AAEP proceedings book. His dedication to content and detail was unparalleled, making the proceedings the book everyone looked forward to reading and to recount what they had heard at the meeting or to see what had taken place in sessions they had been unable to attend. Today's Educational Programmes Committee is equally dedicated to making the Convention and Proceedings book excellent resources for AAEP members. The Committee does this by evaluating more than 200 abstracts submitted each year for inclusion in the programme, determining which ones are scientifically and clinically valid and ensuring the information to be presented is what practitioners need to advance their skills in diagnosis and treatment. Each abstract undergoes a blinded scoring process, in which at least 2 committee members evaluate study design, study quality, consistency, practicality and overall manuscript quality. If necessary, additional expertise is sought from a specialist working in that particular field. After the abstracts are ranked by their scores and prioritised for presentation at the Convention, the final deciding factors are the times and spaces available at the Convention. As a result, some abstracts with acceptable scores may not be presented or published in the proceedings book.
Speakers invited to present in-depth seminars are required to submit review articles, which are also reviewed for organisation, clarity, completeness and clinical relevance prior to publication in the proceedings book. In fact, all papers and notes for all AAEP continuing education meetings are edited prior to publication to make sure the proceedings book and notes meet the quality expected by AAEP members.
Although the review and editing process for the AAEP proceedings is rigorous, it is not at the same level used by refereed journals such as the Equine Veterinary Journal. The process used by those journals requires that the information presented is new, the scientific method has been followed, the results are consistent with what is known about the subject area and appropriate statistical methods have been used, where necessary. The reviewers are selected based on their expertise in a specific subject area and are frequently internationally known. Authors seek this critical review of their work because publication of their findings in refereed journals exposes the information to a wide audience, makes information searchable in literature databases and is required for academic promotion.
While the AAEP seeks to have the latest clinical and scientific information presented at the Convention, authors seeking refereed status for their manuscripts often are reluctant to publish them in proceedings books. Their reluctance is understandable, as any paper published in a proceedings book or on a website will not be considered for publication by refereed journals. Although short abstracts (<250 words) can appear in a proceedings book without jeopardising the fate of a full paper at a refereed journal, often there is insufficient detail in short abstracts to give practitioners the take home information they desire.
This AAEP/EVJ Convention Supplement is designed as a ‘win-win’ approach to the aforementioned dilemma. The availability of this Supplement allows authors to present new scientific information at the Annual Convention and have their manuscripts appear in a refereed journal, while AAEP members gain access to all of the information published as a full paper in EVJ. Because the evaluation processes used by the AAEP and EVJ function independently, some manuscripts arising from abstracts presented at the AAEP Convention were not accepted for publication by EVJ; short abstracts for these presentations appear in the proceedings book. It is also possible that papers submitted to and accepted by EVJ, but not selected for presentation at the Convention, will appear in a subsequent issue of EVJ. This first AAEP/EVJ Supplement has been put together in a relatively short period of time due to the efforts of Debra Sellon, Pat McCue and Jim Moore, who joined me in overseeing the review process, and the many dedicated experts who served as peer reviewers for the submitted manuscripts.
The AAEP taskforce, which examined the feasibility of an AAEP journal, recommended partnering with EVJ to ensure that AAEP members get the resources and information they need to stay current, while making sure that any information published by AAEP is based on the best evidence available and able to stand up to scientific and clinical scrutiny. Hopefully, the AAEP/EVJ Supplement will help us achieve this goal and will continue each year to bring vital information to the practitioners at the time it is presented at the Annual Convention.