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Print version ISSN 1415-790X
Rev. bras. epidemiol. vol.1 n.2 São Paulo Aug. 1998
José da Rocha Carvalheiro
This second issue of the Brazilian Journal of Epidemiology presents two innovations, as previously announced. The first one, a Special Article, is something readers will be able to enjoy from now on: we will always publish articles requested to experts in our field. To open this section, it would be difficult to find a more renowned Author, a true international consensus, and one of the most important epidemiologists of the century, Sir Richard Doll. The article here included is original, having been presented by the Author as a Lecture at Abrasco's Congress of Epidemiology, held in Rio de Janeiro (EpiRio 98). The coming issues will have, still as Special Articles, the other Lectures delivered in EpiRio 98.
The second innovation is the opening of a Debate Section. It will be a permanent section in the Journal, although the format may be different from that presented in this issue. The idea is to encourage debate and controversy on important themes in our area. We will allow space for discussing theoretical, practical, and methodological ideas and points of view.
The Letters Section is par excellence the space for readers to spontaneously participate, thus making it dynamic and leading discussions to wherever they choose. Occasionally, debate will be guided by gathering spontaneous letters and ordered reviews, before the original author replies. It will be similar to Consensus and Dissent, a regular section in some journals of the area.
A more conventional format starts the process through an ordered article, followed by also ordered reviews, and closes with the first author's answer. In this issue we have started that type of debate with a paper written by Maurício Lima Barreto entitled For an epidemiology of the collective health and comments by Moisés Goldbaum and Cláudio Struchiner, both members of the Editorial Board of the Journal.
The Editorial Board has already defined another theme for a more formal debate. It means going into a controversy that, at the moment, occupies a prominent position in most scientific journals of world circulation. Are there multiple ethics in the scientific research involving human beings? Is there one ethics for the investigations carried out in developing countries, not as strict as that of industrialized countries? Should ethics of investigations of the "real" world, involving thousands of people in the final phase of efficacy testing of drugs and vaccines be (phase III) different from the ethics of small scale trials (pre-clinical phase and phases I and II)? To introduce this issue in the epidemiological scientific literature in Brazil, expressing a type of third world approach to this world controversy, we chose one of today's most stirring matters: the controversy of the anti-HIV/aids vaccine. Dirceu Bartolomeu Greco, of the Federal University of the State of Minas Gerais (UFMG), was invited to coordinate the debate. He has represented Brazil in several international meetings held by UNAIDS (OMS) to address that issue. He has defined a criterion to be followed in formal debates, and will be accompanied by a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal, here represented by Carlos Maurício Azevedo Antunes, also of UFMG. Debaters will be invited by the Special Editor to send contributing papers of variable length. Usually, there will be one or more opening articles followed by shorter contributions, ordered or spontaneous, in the same issue or in incoming issues of the Journal. In this section we will also accept suggestions for new themes and debaters
Another alternative, frequently used in daily newspapers and that we will try to adapt to a Journal of Epidemiology, is to simply suggest themes for debate in a less formal manner at first, for them to subsequently become more formal. In that case, papers will necessarily be limited in length, for instance one page, and will be chosen by one of the Editors of the Journal. Also, as in the previous case, suggestions are welcome.
Another section will consist of actual or virtual Round Tables, usually ordered by the Editors. Some, may be those already included in Congresses of the area, but not only: the Journal may host these Round Tables, with or without public. We are waiting for suggestions.
Special Interviews and Reports, usually led by the Editorial Board, may also be the starting point for debates. Suggestions are also welcome here, and naturally, Congresses of the area, held in Brazil or abroad, will be privileged moments for such activities.
The section Drawers and Shelves, which will appear for the first time in the next issue, should also be an endless source of themes for debate. According to its essence, it will be open to suggestions of texts.
We tried to follow the format of the most common Debate sections in periodicals similar to the Brazilian Journal of Epidemiology. Evidently, we expect readers' suggestions to exceed our limited creativity. We might even have some unusual suggestions from readers which may become the trademark of our debates.
The main content of this issue results from the conventional editorial process, common to all scientific journals. Conducted by the Editors, its leading characters were the Authors, Associated Editors, and ad hoc partners recruited in the scientific community. This peer review process moves by itself. Once the rules stated in our opening issue are followed, papers will be published as they complete the long interactive course between peers and authors.
It will always be, therefore, a stimulating task for Editors to choose the article that will feature in each issue of the Journal. Similarly to what already happened in the first issue of the Journal, this one will also include papers in two of the official languages of the Journal. There is an article written in English on data gathered among injecting drug users (IDUs) in Barcelona, Spain. The main Author is a Brazilian from the Federal University of the State of Minas Gerais, and the co-authors, are professionals of several health facilities in the Spanish City. The paper addresses the validation of several manners of defining HIV infection.
All the other articles were originally written in Portuguese. One of them also studies the issue of HIV infection among IDUs in Brazil, calling the readers' attention to the heterogeneity and the continuous transformation of that special sub-population. Estimates of its size and composition required special methods. Following the structural pattern and tendencies of this population is critical to guide interventional measures. In this case, the main Author also belongs to the Federal University of the State of Minas Gerais and his teammate, works at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation.
There is only one article in this issue that was written individually. It is from the Federal University of Pelotas, in the State of Rio Grande do Sul. It considers the difference of the implicit approach in the option for one of the categories, gender or sex, in hierarchical models of epidemiological analysis.
The other three articles are collaborative productions. Coming from different Brazilian institutions, they have features that make us think that there is a constant pattern in the composition of the teams of authors in our Journal. One of them, with two Authors, both from the Institute of Social Medicine of the State University of Rio de Janeiro, discusses the issue of the several "modes" to validate epidemiological studies. The other two articles have been written by the same number of Authors, five. One of them from the Institute of Collective Health of the Federal University of the State of Bahia, analyzes the relationship between migration, the type of insertion in the productive process, and consumption of alcohol. Its Authors are two senior researchers, and the others have scholarships, one of Improvement and two of Scientific Initiation. In the other paper, four of the Authors come from three Brazilian Federal Universities (Rio Grande do Norte, Santa Maria, and Uberlândia). They analyze the methodology of epidemiological surveys in oral health adopted by the World Health Organization. They have in common the fact that all are doctorate students of the Post Graduation Program in Preventive and Social Dentistry of the University of Dentistry of the city of Araçatuba-São Paulo State University (UNESP), to whose faculty the other author belongs.
The Editorial Board is optimistic about the vitality of the Journal. The number of papers submitted, which have to follow the process of peer review, will certainly ensure the materialization of the original mission of a national Journal, open to international contributions and published with articles in any one of its three official languages. The coming issues will be published every four months.