Interview with Claire Johnson, DC, MSEd

Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics

Author: Lori Burkhart, JD/Friday, January 08, 2016/Categories: September 2015

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What are some of the advantages of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT)?


Scientific journals disseminate research findings to progress chiropractic science and inform clinical practice. The JMPT has been the leader in this role since it was first published 38 years ago and has since published more than 3,100 papers, all of which are indexed in MedLine, which is included in PubMed. There is a fascinating range of topics, such as clinical effectiveness, best practices/guidelines, integration, public health, biomechanics, spine and extremities, manipulation and mobilization, rehabilitation, ethical issues and many more. Thus, JMPT provides a substantial body of evidence for chiropractic.

The advantage for ACA members is that the JMPT is the premier journal of the profession, and it is part of ACA membership benefits. At any time, ACA general members can log in to the journal through the ACA website to access all current and back content. ACA promotes collaboration with other health care disciplines and integration into all health care delivery models. Thus, other advantages include that the JMPTis recognized internationally and by other disciplines. It is the most widely subscribed to scientific chiropractic journal in the world and has the respect of the greater scientific community. When ACA members communicate with others, JMPT content is an excellent way to promote interdisciplinary communications through research evidence

How has JMPT made an impact on the profession?

JMPT articles help to influence public policy, legislation and regulation, which contribute positively to chiropractic practice. Examples include some of the first studies showing cost-effectiveness of chiropractic care; others are the chiropractic guidelines and best practice documents and articles about the safety of chiropractic care. The JMPT is a critical source that chiropractors and people who work with chiropractors know that they can turn to for a vast array of quality science. Unfortunately, there is still some bias in some biomedical journals against chiropractic content or chiropractic authors. Researchers tell me they are thankful for the rigorous and fair processes that the JMPT provides to them. Thus, the JMPT is a safe haven for high-quality research on chiropractic-related topics. The JMPT allows the profession to continue to contribute to the scientific literature, and the ACA is part of this effort.

How does JMPT select the content it publishes?

Thank you for asking this important question. Some misunderstand how scientific journals work. For example, I have been asked, “Why doesn’t the JMPT publish more articles about…” and a favorite topic is mentioned. What some may not realize is that the JMPT is a biomedical journal and must follow standard publication practices. A scientific journal requires that papers are submitted and go through a rigorous peer-review process. This differs from a magazine that invites authors to write articles, which are not research and are not peer reviewed. Although magazines are informative, they do not contribute to chiropractic evidence.

The JMPT selects only the very best papers; however, it does not have control over what research is submitted. The direction of what topics are researched is decided by funding bodies, the research institutions and the researchers themselves. High-quality research requires experienced researchers and resources. The research team must go through rigorous processes, obtain ethics permission and secure funding before their research begins. The authors submit the paper to the JMPT, which puts it through rigorous peer review. Many submitted papers are not accepted; only the best ones are published. Thus, published research is what is funded, submitted and then survives through the scientific peer-review process. The JMPT is there to publish the end product of this research but does not determine what is researched in the first place.

I noticed that the JMPT publishes more than just papers authored by chiropractors. Why is this important to ACA members?

Good research is good research regardless of the author’s degrees and credentials. One of the goals of theJMPT is to provide the highest possible quality research publications that are relevant to chiropractic. For various reasons, much of today’s research in areas such as biomechanics, physio-therapeutics and clinical practice comes from outside of the chiropractic profession. As well, it has been our profession’s tradition to use the best available research and science regardless of the professional affiliation and apply it to clinical practice. In staying with this tradition, the JMPT does not discriminate against researchers from other backgrounds or research studies involving other professions. Our readers are encouraged to look beyond the credentials and instead focus on the excellent science. The bottom line is that conclusions of most articles are relevant to chiropractic, either at a basic science level or clinical practice level. Thus, the JMPT is bringing the best possible information to its readers from international and interdisciplinary sources.

What have you accomplished since stepping into the role of JMPT editor?

When I first became JMPT editor in 2004, I collaborated with the publisher and journal staff to focus on modernizing journal processes. We improved technological standards to a level that researchers and readers expected. We cut the time to publication in half, which allowed the journal to be more attractive to international, high-quality researchers. These improvements also raised the quality of the papers. Other improvements include expanding the interdisciplinary editorial board, establishing an open-access rule for all NIH or national government-funded studies and increasing the number of invited reviewers per paper. We have also committed to international scientific standards, such as requiring ethics approval, declaration of conflicts of interest, adherence to industry standards and clinical trial registries. Why should ACA members care about these things? All of these actions ensure compliance with international standards, improve the journal’s reputation and, most important, continually elevate the quality of the journal. The JMPT is the premier journal of the chiropractic profession and therefore, has the responsibility to represent chiropractic to the world in the best possible light. I have seen how much the journal has transformed over the past 11 years and the impact it has made on the profession. It is an incredible feeling knowing that I have been a part of this process.

Has anything surprised you over the past 11 years?

What surprises and humbles me is the overwhelming number of people, many who are ACA members, who let me know how much they value the JMPT, especially how it positively contributes to practice and the profession. It is obvious that ACA members are interested in supporting science and staying up-to-date on the latest research. Knowing that so many people value science makes me quite proud of our profession. It is essential that members stay up-to-date with the current literature. This is important since in order to be considered a true “profession,” we must show that we have a body of scientific knowledge that our members know. ACA members are aware that it is not enough for us to point to old textbooks on the shelf. As individuals, we must be up-to-date on the current evidence. All major health professions have a continuing body of research and flagship scientific journal. The JMPT is that journal for the chiropractic profession. The members of the profession have a responsibility to stay up-to-date with the knowledge that is published in the JMPT and elsewhere.

How can JMPT help ACA members?

ACA members are passionate, progressive and dedicated to advancing the profession through advocacy, education and research. As health professionals, we are expected to stay up-to-date with scientific information. If we wish to participate in the future of health care, we must be able to read and converse in scientific terms. I recognize that reading research is not easy. However, being a responsible member of our profession is not easy either – it takes work. One way to get better at reading and understanding research is to read a little bit each day, and the JMPT can help members do that. I recommend that doctors browse through recent JMPT issues and read some topics that are most interesting. After gaining some confidence and familiarity with how journal articles are written, readers can challenge themselves with other articles that they might not normally read. Many colleagues have tried this method and then come to realize that most every paper in the JMPT has a clinical gem waiting to be discovered. It is up to the reader to find these gems and apply them to clinical practice. I encourage ACA members to visit the journal website and find topics of interest or sign up for the free notification service to let them know as soon as the latest articles are published. This will help ACA members stay up-to-date with the latest science.

Claire Johnson, DC, MSEd, DACBSP, is a professor at National University of Health Sciences and the editor-in-chief for the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Journal of Chiropractic Medicine and Journal of Chiropractic Humanities. She serves as the communications chair for the American Public Health Association, Chiropractic Health Care section. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of California San Diego, her doctorate of chiropractic degree from the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic, completed a diplomate in sports chiropractic and received her master’s degree in health professions education from the University of Southern California. She has published more than 60 educational, clinical and historical research papers. Dr. Johnson has research interests in health promotion and injury prevention and is pursuing a PhD in Public Health with a focus in epidemiology. 

 

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