Not just another committee

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 50, No. 5, June 2008, Page 238 Editorials

When asked if I would be interested in being a member of the BCMJ Editorial Board in 1994, my first reaction was, “Oh no, not another committee.”

I was told that it was one of the most enjoyable committees to be on and that the once-monthly meetings were something to look forward to. I was flattered to be asked, and after some deliberation I agreed. I joined at the same time as Lindsay Lawson. 

It had been decided that there should be more female representation on the Board (prior to this, Pat Rebbeck had been the only female). I hoped Pat would welcome some female support, although clearly she had done a fabulous job representing us during that time.

She wrote an editorial for the 25th anniversary of the journal about her first Board meeting, and I echo her sentiments. I didn’t know what to ex­pect either, having never been on an editorial board before. At my first meeting, I mainly sat and listened to how things were done, but distinctly remember a lot of laughs, mixed in with the serious business (what do you expect with two Irishmen, an Aussie, and a Brit in the same room!). 

It was thoroughly enjoyable as well as in­formative. There was no shortage of dry and wry wit, humor, and bantering at these meetings, and this made me want to attend. 

I was and continue to be impressed by the calibre of clinical and scientific material submitted for review. The theme issues are very comprehensive and informative. The fact that busy clinicians are willing to take the time to write articles for the journal indicates a real interest in contributing to a good, close-to-home, peer-reviewed publication. 

As well as the scientific component, according to an Ipsos Reid survey (2005), the journal is the most popular source of information used to find out about issues affecting medical practice in BC. There is really something for everyone in each issue.

Last year we on the Editorial Board were asked if we might be interested in doing a CME cruise. Novel idea. This would be a very different format from the standard courses in that instead of one or two speakers, we would all contribute. It would involve each of us giving talks in our respective areas of expertise, in addition to discussing our experiences in the editorial process and why we were doing it. It turned out to be a very rewarding experience. 

Interestingly, many of the attendees were from the US and although I’m sure many were initially just looking for a good place to travel, they were very impressed by our journal. So much so that we are doing another cruise to the Galapagos in 2009, so we hope to spread the word further afield.

Over the past 14 years there have been a few changes in the Board membership, all of which have been positive. Once Pat retired from clinical practice she continued on as editor emerita, providing invaluable counsel and input from the College perspective. 

This continued after she formally retired and Heidi Oetter came on board. Heidi brought a wealth of experience, not only as a general practitioner, but as a former BCMA president, well versed in the politics of medicine. She has now moved on (again), but we maintain our College connection now that Bob Vroom has joined our Board.

The journal would not be what it is without the excellent leadership of our editor, Jim Wilson. He has been on the Editorial Board for 28 years and editor for 14 of those. He dedicates countless hours to the journal, especially behind the scenes—writing and responding to letters and soliciting articles, opinion pieces, and theme issues. This is in addition to reviewing the sometimes heavy load of incoming articles, keeping order at our meetings, and writing an editorial each month.

Finally, a special word of thanks to Jay, our managing editor, Kashmira, our production coordinator, and Tara, our editorial assistant. Without their sage advice we would probably not be where we are.

Why do I stay on the Editorial Board? Because I feel privileged to be part of an excellent team that strives to maintain our journal as a first-class publication, and I’m proud of it!


Susan E. Haigh, MD. Not just another committee. BCMJ, Vol. 50, No. 5, June, 2008, Page(s) 238 - Editorials.

Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.

About the ICMJE and citation styles

The ICMJE is small group of editors of general medical journals who first met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1978 to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which meets annually. The ICMJE created the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals to help authors and editors create and distribute accurate, clear, easily accessible reports of biomedical studies.

An alternate version of ICMJE style is to additionally list the month an issue number, but since most journals use continuous pagination, the shorter form provides sufficient information to locate the reference. The NLM now lists all authors.

BCMJ standard citation style is a slight modification of the ICMJE/NLM style, as follows:

  • Only the first three authors are listed, followed by "et al."
  • There is no period after the journal name.
  • Page numbers are not abbreviated.

For more information on the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, visit

BCMJ Guidelines for Authors

Leave a Reply