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The New Year brings a new look Veterinary Record. Following its move to the BMJ Group last year, and on the basis of research undertaken since, the journal has been redesigned to make it more attractive to readers and advertisers.
The changes being made are more than cosmetic. As well as the change in appearance, a number of new features are being introduced with immediate effect, while others will be added as the year progresses. They include a regular 'Research Digest', providing short, readable summaries of relevant research papers from other veterinary journals. Feedback suggests that, while they appreciate being kept up to date on veterinary political developments and news and views of colleagues, what practitioner readers value most about Veterinary Record is news of developments in research. Veterinary Record itself plays an important role in publishing original research, and will continue to do so, but the veterinary literature and range of specialties has expanded markedly in recent years, and the aim of this feature will be to provide an initial point of reference for busy practitioners.
Another new section, 'Vet Record Careers', will reflect the diverse range of career options available to vets and related professionals, and meet requests for more information in this area. By providing a vehicle for advertising in print and online, Veterinary Record already represents an important recruitment forum. The new section will build on this, carrying articles on employment issues, educational options and on personal and professional development.
Other new features will include regular 'Viewpoint' articles, aimed at stimulating debate and providing an opportunity for personal comment on issues of professional concern. Meanwhile, the News section will continue to be developed to keep readers up to date with developments across the profession. Reflecting readers' professed appetite for more science, short, peer-reviewed review articles of developments in practically relevant areas will start appearing in the journal from July.
Veterinary Record plays an important role in communicating significant research findings to practising vets and this needs to be nurtured. One can cite BSE, foot-and-mouth disease and bluetongue as examples, but there are many others. While, for the time being at least, most vets continue to indicate that they want to receive the journal in print form, the research community is increasingly looking for rapid international dissemination of findings online. Veterinary Record will continue to develop its website to improve the facilities available to contributors and users and, importantly, from April, will start publishing its peer-reviewed research papers online ahead of print. This means that papers will be available for others to read almost as soon as they are accepted for publication. As a prelude to this, from this issue, all papers and other articles appearing in Veterinary Record will be given a unique doi (digital object identifier) number, to assist in referencing.
Among other developments, Veterinary Record is to be included in the World health Organization's HINARI Access to Research Initiative, aimed at improving access to scientific information for health sector institutions in developing countries (see www.who.int/hinari). This means that all users in the poorest countries (HINARI Band 1) will have unfettered access to Veterinary Record and In Practice online.
In addition, authors publishing papers in Veterinary Record will soon have the option of making them open access on payment of an 'Unlocked' fee.These open access articles will be free from the point of publication with a Creative Commons licence and will be deposited with PubMedCentral. Details will be announced in the journal in the coming weeks.
When William Hunting founded the Veterinary Record in 1888, he said that 'Not only a Scientific but a Professional Journal is our idea of what is wanted' and that 'we hope to earn the title of representative by appealing to the whole profession'. Things have moved on since 1888, in the veterinary profession as well as in veterinary science. In the past 10 years in particular, there have been significant changes in the way information is communicated, but those basic principles still seem sound. Veterinary Record will continue to work to hunting's principles while making best use of communications technology to assist in the advancement of the profession and help practitioners and researchers in their professional lives.