ONLINE POST, commissioned | AMP Student 2016;8
Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Pedro Câmara Pestana, Joana Revés and Ana Rita Ramalho, who are editorial members of the student medical journal AMP Student, in London in May 2016. We discussed many topics about how we run our respective publications: from how to develop an editorial strategy and encourage authors to submit to the finer details of web and print production.
Both publications provide practical resources for their readers. AMP Student offers a vehicle for students to get their research published as well as equipping its readers with the tools to do it and giving them a platform to share their views about healthcare and medical training in Portugal. Student BMJ offers a wide range practical advice for students in the UK, from educational topics such as how to read ECGs or how to suture, to articles about what different specialities are like, as well as keeping readers up to date with the latest medico-political topics that may impact on their career.
I was very impressed with the AMP Student team, who showed a real dedication towards making their journal the best it can be for its readers. This insight into another medical student-focused publication made me realise that although we have slightly different editorial pursuits – we share similar challenges.
One of these is highlighting to medical students that getting published in our publications is an option for them. Often there is a lack of awareness that publications such as ours openly welcome submissions from our readers. Once you have a prospective author’s interest it is imperative to guide them in what your publication does and does not publish. By not defining this, it can cause confusion for all. On student.bmj.com we have author guidelines and also an ‘Editor’s list’ which includes a list of topics we are actively looking for people to write on. In 2015, Student BMJ moved from producing a monthly publication, to a termly (three times a year) issue. This has helped us plan and communicate far in advance the type of topics we want to cover (through the Editor’s list) and has built up the sense we are a resource for students rather than a nice to have periodical.
Here are some examples of how we have focused on a general medicine specialty since we relaunched our termly edition. Each journal is 120 pages long. If you would like to read more about some of the changes Student BMJ has made in the last year – please read this article.
The other challenge for both journals is that we have a relatively small team to produce the publication. This is where, I believe, student publications need to harness the power of their readership. I have always thought that Student BMJ belongs to its readers as much as it does to BMJ company. To make the publication the best it can be, we hold regular focus groups and actively encourage medical students around the world to contribute to different aspects of its DNA: whether it is as an author, reviewer or member of a focus group. Sharing the challenges you face as a publication with your audience, as well as being in tune with the problems they need help solving, creates a collaborative and dynamic way of working.
Medical students in Portugal are very fortunate to have a journal such as AMP Student. There isn’t an abundance of medical journals for students worldwide, so it is a real gift to have a team of editors there to serve your needs in helping you disseminate your research and to offer you a platform to give medical students a voice in your country. I am sure the team are interested to hear more about what you need and I look forward to seeing the publication grow from strength to strength.