Scand J Work Environ Health 1995;21(1):1-2    pdf

Time for change

by Hernberg S

In the 20 years of its existence, the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health has developed from virtually nothing into a truly international scientific publication. It now has a circulation of 1400 copies and is read in 52 countries. Many regard it as one of the four to five leading occupational health journals in the world.

Our subscribers represent a great variety of categories, but two distinct groups form the majority. These are libraries of universities and other institutions of occupational health and occupational health centers of large and medium-sized companies. The first group represents researchers, the second occupational health practitioners. Our journal tries to serve both types of readers, but combining their rather different interests in the framework of one journal is not always easy since researchers and practitioners are often interested in different types of articles.

It may well be that researchers have so far received the lion's share of attention in our journal, although we have tried to serve practitioners by publishing review articles in almost each issue. Many of our reviews have addressed practical issues. However, it cannot be denied that many have been rather "scientific" in spite of this general aim, mainly because "scientific" reviews are usually submitted on the authors' initiative, while "general" reviews are, for the most part, invited by the editor, who often needs the power of persuasion to obtain such reviews.

Now, after 20 years, the time has come for a reassessment of the aims and contents of our journal. Our readers have an increasing need to be served information relevant to them concisely because the flow of information from journals, electronic data bases, and conferences is so overwhelming that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for everyone, not the least practitioners, to extract relevant information satisfactorily. A modern journal, especially one in the applied field of occupational health, should do its best to meet these challenges by helping its readership by collecting and distributing the essentials of new knowledge in an easily accessible form. This approach calls for a deviation from the publishing policy and contents of what has been known as the "classical" or "typical" scientific journal. Scientists, being the producers of knowledge, may disagree, but the needs of the other customers of a journal, the consumers of information, must also be kept in mind. Is the old-fashioned scientific journal anymore the optimal channel of information for readers? Could one combine both high-level original data and more general information in the same journal? We will try.

With this objective in mind, the editors of the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health, representing the publishers, that is, the institutes of occupational health in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, discussed these matters at their annual meeting in the spring of 1994. They concluded that the Journal should be gradually developed along new lines from 1995 on.

Accordingly, while still giving most emphasis to the traditional contents of original scientific articles and scientific reviews, and publishing, as before, "short communications," "case reports," "correspondence," and "book reviews," space will also be reserved for more practically oriented "Reviews," "Opinions," "Meeting Reports", "Congress Reports," and "News," the last mostly consisting of short abstracts of important articles published elsewhere, as well as of personal and organizational news from the world of occupational health. Editorials will be published, at least occasionally, and "Announcements" of coming events", such as congresses and courses will be published as before. The format of the Journal has been changed, as everyone can see from this issue, and the editors will consider any constructive new proposal for further improving the contents in a very positive way.

One should not, either, forget the word "Environment" in the title of the Journal. From the very beginning, our intention has been to publish also articles relating to problems of the general environment, as long as the topic has health relevance. Few such articles have, however, been published, mostly because such manuscripts, for some reason, have not been submitted. We hope for more contributions in this area, and I can assure potential contributors that this topic will receive close attention as long as the quality of the article is high.

Some of these new openings were already initiated in 1994, as, for example, "Congress Reports," but we will try to increase the speed from this issue on. Especially "News" are welcome from all over the world, and our readers are encouraged to submit such matters to the editors for rapid publication. Short abstracts of articles published in languages other than English are particularly welcome. Debate is always interesting. In this issue you can already find a "commentary" article -- discussion is invited and so are more commentaries or opinions on whatever relevant topic.

The editors do hope that these changes will gradually make the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health more attractive to its readers, and we invite feedback and constructive criticism -- irrespective of whether it is intended for publication or not.

The following article refers to this text: 2016;42(3):177-180