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Print version ISSN 1415-790X
Rev. bras. epidemiol. vol.3 n.1-3 São Paulo Apr./Dec. 2000
José da Rocha Carvalheiro
This issue covers the three issues of volume 3 of Brazilian Journal of Epidemiology (Revista Brasileira de Epidemiologia), for the year 2000. It is a legitimate formula for updating the circulation of Revista. It demands, however, some consideration from the main interested parties: epidemiologists from academic, research and service institutions, who take part in the process, as both producers and "consumers" of new knowledge. Revista belongs to them more than to the editorial board, to the Committee of Epidemiology or to Abrasco itself. Without the active participation of the authors in this area, who give priority to sending their contributions to our Revista, the latter would not be able to survive. As the Editiorial of the first issue already mentioned, quoting Cecília Donnangelo, our field has "more actors than authors." This statement, however, should be put into context, since it acknowledges that there were many ways in which epidemiology was practiced in Brazil and publishing in specialized journals was not the most frequent one. This no longer applies. Although the classification of periodicals has only recently been introduced into graduate programs in Brazil, it affects us deeply. We will either have to live with this reality or strive to change it. Programs are evaluated, based mainly on the number of studies published in a high-profile journal. It is unavoidable that those that struggle to be among the best in the field, a legitimate claim, submit their work only to publications that can help them receive favorable evaluations. If this vicious circle is not broken, it is not likely that a new periodical with the same high standards and peer review as those already well-established in each field of knowledge, will be able to emerge.
Revista Brasileira de Epidemiologia was able to begin its indexation process only after completing two volumes, and it has not as yet been very successful. The prospects, however, are good due to the acknowledgment of our high scientific standards, a feature we cannot give up. Only some purely editorial innovations are being introduced, such as publishing numbers dedicated to specific topics or to Annual Reviews. These include custom-made studies, which are also submitted to the consideration of designated "ad hoc" specialists. Also, other purely technical editorial innovations have been introduced, such as redefining the way of releasing the extended summary, which has recently been requested, in addition to the usual abstract. One idea is to eliminate the extended summary from the hard copy edition, and to publish these summaries in English (Portuguese or Spanish on) Abrasco's website. This appears to be a minor problem, but authors seem to have a somewhat unclear interpretation of the difference between these simplified ways of presenting their work, which has created an ongoing editorial challenge.
In the present number we are publishing the III Master Plan for the Development of Epidemiology in Brazil, 2000 to 2004. It was prepared by Abrasco's Committee of Epidemiology, using a complex process in which practically all relevant sectors of the field took part. As it is the third version of a Plan, the importance of which was demonstrated in the previous ones, we can only hope that it will serve as a guide in the development of the field in the areas of research, teaching at all levels, services, policy-making and health assessment.
One of the studies, from the Instituto de Saúde Coletiva (Colective Health Institute) of the Federal University of Bahia, written in the author's usual competent manner, discusses the concept of health, considering it a "blind spot" of epidemiology and stating that a negative definition of health lacks logical foundation. Another study, from the School of Public Health of São Paulo University, looks at how the introduction of new computer technology has made it easier to prepare mortality statistics according to multiple causes. From the Federal University of Ceará, in collaboration with Ceará's GAPA, we have a study on "unprotected" sexual practices among men who have sex with men in the city of Fortaleza. From the "Núcleo de Nutrição, Alimentação e Desenvolvimento Infantil" (Child Nutrition, Feeding and Development Center) of the São Paulo State Health Department, in collaboration with the Department of Epidemiology of Emory University and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), in the United States, we have an analysis on the nutritional gains of underprivileged children attending a specialized service. Finally, a study by the São Paulo State Health Department in conjunction with the School of Public Health of São Paulo University, discusses violent deaths in the city of São Paulo over a period of forty years.
As in previous issues, there is a great diversity in topics, background of authors and theoretical and methodological approaches. This can now be identified as one of the main features of Revista. We hope it will continue with the same editorial line, the same profile of collaborators, thematic lines and conceptual affiliations.