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Streamlining advertisements: Editorial perspective
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Khopkar U. Streamlining advertisements: Editorial perspective. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2014;80:103
An important issue that frequently gets sidelined in the editorial quest for just evaluation and publication of scientific articles is addressed in this issue of the journal.  Although the financial support to a scientific journal rendered by advertisements is a reality, editors have a responsibility to guide the readers. With this in mind, framing of an advertisement policy for the journal and having a committee to scrutinize advertisements should help in sorting this issue to the advantage of all the stakeholders. Editors look at advertisements as a method to sustain their main activity, i.e., printing and posting of scientific articles. Although it may be difficult to establish criteria of which advertisements to accept and which ones to reject, it may be possible to include guidance on the evidence level of the product or instrument at the bottom of an advertisement in a small box. This would not only guide the readers but also inculcate the habit of checking the evidence level for new remedies. Moreover, in the long run, it may also work as an incentive to companies to collect more evidence for their products before launching them. However, one of the fallouts of this methodology may be that such guidance may itself be used as an advertisement for the product! Hence, although there may be no single satisfactory solution, efforts to improve the quality of advertisements need to be begun in real earnest.
Advertisements for non-drug products also merit study. This is because advertisements for these largely unauthenticated products are the most contentious of all. One of the main concerns in including such advertisements in a scientific journal is that it inadvertently adds a stamp of authenticity to the product, be it a cosmetic cream, light therapy instrument, or a hair-raising solution.
Finlay, a comment about the observation that there are no advertisements in the scientific section of the journal in Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology ( IJDVL) as against Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (JAAD), which continues to allow advertisements amidst the scientific pages. Not to allow advertisements amidst the scientific articles was a conscious decision that was taken in 2003 by the then IJDVL team and contrary to expectations, it did not have any adverse impact on the number of advertisements in the journal. This should encourage the current editorial team to improve the advertisements section in IJDVL further.
Editor′s note: Dr. Uday Khopkar was chief editor, IJDVL from 2003-2008.