International tag-team sheds light on nutrition during pregnancy

Aug 29 2014

By Dr Alexis Hure

June 2014 was filled with excitement related to World Cup Soccer. For me, it also included some apprehension about writing my first editorial for an internationally renowned, peer-reviewed journal with a stranger in Brazil.

Towards the end of last year I joined the editorial board for the journal Public Health Nutrition. This journal has always been a favourite of mine and so I was delighted to accept the invitation to join a team of experts from around the world dedicated to high quality research promoting good health through nutrition and the prevention of nutrition-related disease.

In February our Journal’s Editor-in-Chief asked if I might be willing to co-author an editorial with a Brazilian colleague on an issue about nutrition in pregnancy. Given this is the area of research I am most passionate about I could hardly refuse. The issue was planned for September, with a first draft required by early June.

After saying yes, the questions started to come… How will this work being on opposite sides of the world? Who is this lady from Brazil? Is there enough time?… The good thing about research is that there is not enough time for doubt so I put it in the ‘I’ll worry about all of that later’-basket and got on with the next job on the never-ending to-do list.

May rolls around and luckily my co-author, Associate Professor Marly Cardoso, and I are running behind before we have even started. We request an extension to accommodate Marly’s Micronutrient Forum in Ethiopia and the deadline I have for another paper in the UK.

Between us we have already decided on the plan. Marly takes the lead in writing the draft as the more senior researcher and experienced associate editor. I’m there to strengthen certain areas of intellectual content, in addition to hunting down any typos, and improving general readability.

With just a few days to spare Marly’s first draft arrives in my inbox and it looks great! It synthesises the seven papers we have been asked to cover nicely, leaving enough room for me to add in just a few of the interesting details. After a few rounds of very social and friendly ‘write a paper-tennis’, where you write and send it, I rework and hit it back and so on, the draft was ready to submit.

In finalising this article the feedback from our Journal’s Editor-in-Chief was: “Not sure if it’s your efficiency or the combined time zones, but this has to be the most efficient reworking of an editorial that I’ve ever seen.”

On reflection I’m not at all surprised that this turned out to be such a friendly and positive international collaboration. Despite any differences in geography, language, and culture we share a commitment and passion for promoting health through good nutrition during pregnancy and in the immediate period after birth.

*** Dr Alexis Hure is an HMRI Post Doctoral Research Fellow in the School of Medicine and Public Health, The University of Newcastle