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Editor, IJDVL, Department of Dermatology and Venereology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi - 110 029
|How to cite this article:
Ramam M. Missing issues. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2015;81:237-241
Late last year, our publisher told us that they were left with some extra copies of the journal. We thought it would be a good idea to offer them to those who had not received a particular issue. We announced this on our association′s e-mail groups and responses started coming in. Let us confess that we were unprepared for the storm that followed. Though not as acute as the anxiety produced by lost children, it was clear that missing issues were causing considerable distress.
It appeared that a fairly large number of people were not receiving the journal regularly. Some were not receiving it at all. Some had been receiving it but had stopped doing so after they moved. Some had never moved, but had stopped receiving the journal. Some received them intermittently. Some pointed out that they were receiving other journals posted by our publisher but not the IJDVL. Important functionaries of the national executive were among those affected. Everywhere any member of the journal team went, from conferences to executive committee meeting, we were asked about this.
It was not that we were entirely unaware of the problem. We did receive the occasional complaint from new members and some from old ones about this and we would try and sort them out. Some members wrote to us directly, some through the national or state office bearers and some wrote directly to our publisher. Some called. We responded by asking the subscriptions department of the publisher to check that the address was entered correctly in the database and to ensure issues were dispatched properly. Common reasons for non-delivery were that address changes had not been notified, or that a new member was contacting us before his details had been communicated to the journal office, a process that takes a few weeks. In some cases, the reason could not be determined and the blame was laid at the door of the postal department. In internal discussions, we recognized that the problem was likely to be larger than it appeared from the number of complaints because many people do not complain. We considered using some system to record delivery. We realized that it was important for the IADVL database to be updated promptly and in the format required by the publisher. We checked with the editorial team of the Indian Journal of Dermatology, Kolkata and found that they had faced similar problems with journal delivery. However, we did not know that such a large number of people were affected and so many were disturbed.
Paradoxically, the tumult was also a reason for happiness. It was good to know that there were many people who were concerned at not receiving the Journal. A cynic may carp that not all who receive the journal read it, but we are not cynics and that so many people wanted to receive the journal made us feel good. Indifference is the final rebuke. Manuscripts are the raw material of the editorial process and the editors engage closely with authors and referees in the process of converting this raw material into the finished product of an accepted and published article. Publication marks the end of this engagement for editor, author and referee who then move on to the next task. It is easy to lose sight of the reader for whom this entire exercise is undertaken, the person for whom the machinery has been set in place. That this reader wanted what we produced made us happy.
The work of putting together the scientific content takes up a lot of the editorial team′s time. There are manuscripts to screen, referees to contact, revisions to request, revised manuscripts to review for compliance with referee comments, language to edit, issues to plan, proofs to correct and deadlines to meet, always deadlines to meet. Our Managing Editor focuses on issues related to revenues and subscriptions but like the rest of us, he undertakes this responsibility in addition to his regular clinical and other work. It was obvious that we would need help to sort out the problem of missing issues. The magnitude of the problem and the clamor of many voices required a response. We turned to the national executive.
Here is an outline of the process of printing and dispatch that has been the focus of our joint attention.
Once an issue is finalized by the editorial team, it is ready to go to the printer. At this stage, the honorary secretary of the IADVL provides addresses of new members, which is added to the existing list of active members and subscribers. The print order is placed based on this list and some additional copies are printed in case they are needed later. Copies are not printed for those on the list of inactive members (see below). Once issues are printed, copies for members and subscribers in Mumbai are sent back to the subscription department of the publisher who dispatches them by courier. The rest of the copies are sent to a postal vendor who takes them to the post office and dispatches them by India Post.
If a journal copy that has been couriered or posted to a member is returned to the publisher, that member is moved to the inactive list. The publisher subsequently discontinues printing and dispatch of journals to members on this list. The reasons for the journal being returned are recorded and include the following: left, office shifted, office closed, office lockout, no such person, person not known, address insufficient, address not found, address incorrect, consignee refused to accept, prohibited area/no entry for outsiders, consignee deceased, reason not clear, reason not mentioned.
In the last couple of months, steps have been taken. We have confirmed that an adequate number of copies are printed for our members and subscribers. Moreover, that these copies are all posted. These are important first steps and will continue to be monitored for some time. The other steps require your cooperation.
What can you do to ensure that you receive the journal regularly?
Make sure to inform the publisher about address changes. The simplest and most direct way to do this is to fill in the online form available at http://www.medknow.com/changeaddress.asp. You could also send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Other ways include informing your state secretary, the national secretary or our Managing Editor(email@example.com).
You can receive an e-mail informing you that the journal has been dispatched if you link your e-mail address to your postal address in the subscription database. The simplest way to do this is again, to use the change address online form mentioned above. Please enter your current postal address unchanged but add your e-mail address.
Complaints about non-receipt of the journal can be sent using the publisher′s online form available at http://www.medknow.com/claim.asp preferably within a month of dispatch. If you prefer, you can inform the other people mentioned above.
Finally, you can check if you have been shifted to the inactive list by looking for your name in [Table - 1]. If you find your name here, or the name of someone you know, contact firstname.lastname@example.org and they will put the names back on the active list and you should begin receiving the journal again.
Additional measures that we are considering include providing members the facility of checking their address in the database. In addition, we plan to alert the national and state secretary every time a member is moved to the inactive list so that prompt action to correct problems can be taken. We are hopeful that these measures will help to bring the journal to you promptly and regularly.