On 4 November 2009, the first edition of the Journal of Health & Safety Research & Practice began appearing in some Australian letter boxes. This is the long-awaited, and long-promised, journal produced for members of the Safety Institute of Australia. The three articles in this inaugural edition are very good but the format and the marketing is very odd.
The journal says that “[SIA] members may also access electronic copies of articles via www.sia.org.au.” Go to the page on the Safety Institute’s website for the Peer Review Journal and the page is blank.
SafetyAtWorkBlog contacted the SIA for information about any launch of the publication or media release. There is nothing currently available.
The Editor-In-Chief, Dr Stephen Cowley rightly points to the importance of communication.
“Scholarly publication is central to the communication of new work and ideas…and a fundamental tenet of scientific work is that it is subject to critical appraisal.”
But the SafetyAtWorkBlog contention is that “new work and ideas” need to be circulated much more broadly than solely in a scholarly publication limited to the members of the Safety Institute. The SIA says the content is planned to be “released” online after six months but there is a huge difference between publishing ideas and promoting ideas. One element of the SIA’s mission statement is to “promote health and safety awareness” and this means actively promote, not just publish something and see what happens.
If the SIA really wants to compete with the only other OHS journal in Australia, The Journal of Occupational Health and Safety – Australia and New Zealand published by CCH Australia, it will really need a strong promotional strategy that makes the SIA journal as indispensible as CCH’s.
The justification for another peer review journal in such a small academic pool as Australia remains unclear but there is speculation that the SIA journal has come about as a result of dissatisfaction with the CCH journal.
The test for the validity of the SIA journal will be to see contributions coming from tertiary institutions from around Australia and not just from VIOSH, a school associated with the University of Ballarat, the employer of both the Editor-In-Chief and one of the two Executive Editors.
In terms of format, it is accepted that this is a first edition and that it is a work-in-progress. However this first edition has had a gestation of several years and to have only three articles, even though they are very good, seems a little thin. In the CCH journal, which has existed for decades, there is also the following
- Notes for Contributors,
- Book Reviews,
- Court Cases, and
- a Noticeboard
Some of this content may be in a sister publication for SIA members that is also currently going to members but, as this journal is dedicated to Dr Eric Wigglesworth, at least an obituary could have been expected.
Being the first edition, the omission of an index is understandable.
The journal is published with the assistance of LexisNexis Media, a major source of legal and court reports. Surely some relevant content could have been accessed through LexisNexis although, again, maybe the SIA member publication will carry this.
If the CCH journal is used as the yardstick for OHS journals in Australia, the SIA journal is a good start. But the CCH journal should not be the benchmark being aimed at. In the 21st century, the SIA should be looking well beyond its competitors and embracing the new internet and publishing technologies to establish its own benchmark and to lead the pack, rather than follow.
The SIA is well aware of the Cochrane Collaboration and the Cochrane Library which offer a number of extra information and media services on its public health research. The SIA is not in any way the equivalent of the Cochrane sites but some of the features could be applied to enhance the value of the SIA journal and to establish a greater prominence.
The articles in the Journal of Health & Safety Research & Practice are
“Breaking the Barriers of Insider Research in Occupational Health and Safety” by Annabel Galea
“Are health and safety representatives more effective at representing their designated work group having completed a Certificate IV course in OHS?” by Gavin Merriman and Stephen P Cowley