Biomedical journals are the main route for disseminating the results of health-related research. Despite this, their editors operate largely without formal training or certification. To our knowledge, no body of literature systematically identifying core competencies for scientific editors of biomedical journals exists. Therefore, we aimed to conduct a scoping review to determine what is known on the competency requirements for scientific editors of biomedical journals.
We searched the MEDLINE®, Cochrane Library, Embase®, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and ERIC databases (from inception to November 2014) and conducted a grey literature search for research and non-research articles with competency-related statements (i.e. competencies, knowledge, skills, behaviors, and tasks) pertaining to the role of scientific editors of peer-reviewed health-related journals. We also conducted an environmental scan, searched the results of a previous environmental scan, and searched the websites of existing networks, major biomedical journal publishers, and organizations that offer resources for editors.
A total of 225 full-text publications were included, 25 of which were research articles. We extracted a total of 1,566 statements possibly related to core competencies for scientific editors of biomedical journals from these publications. We then collated overlapping or duplicate statements which produced a list of 203 unique statements. Finally, we grouped these statements into seven emergent themes: (1) dealing with authors, (2) dealing with peer reviewers, (3) journal publishing, (4) journal promotion, (5) editing, (6) ethics and integrity, and (7) qualities and characteristics of editors.
To our knowledge, this scoping review is the first attempt to systematically identify possible competencies of editors. Limitations are that (1) we may not have captured all aspects of a biomedical editor's work in our searches, (2) removing redundant and overlapping items may have led to the elimination of some nuances between items, (3) restricting to certain databases, and only French and English publications, may have excluded relevant publications, and (4) some statements may not necessarily be competencies.
This scoping review is the first step of a program to develop a minimum set of core competencies for scientific editors of biomedical journals which will be followed by a training needs assessment, a Delphi exercise, and a consensus meeting.