From the Executive Editor
We want to know your opinion!

Yes, you read the title correctly! The Journal of Swine Health and Production (JSHAP) would like to know your opinion.

We are currently conducting a JSHAP readership survey because we want to know your opinion about the journal. We want to know what you like, what you would like improved, and any constructive comments you may have for the journal. This is your opportunity to tell us your thoughts and to help shape the future of the journal. We have designed a very short readership survey (5 to 7 minutes) which will be available electronically at the home page – more information will be available in the e-Letter. The survey is anonymous and hence completely confidential. However, if you would like to provide your contact information or discuss anything directly with me or other members of the journal staff, there is a section in the survey where you can leave your information. In addition to the readership survey, we will also be doing a separate survey for corresponding authors and peer-reviewers from the past 1 to 2 years of submissions for feedback on the review process.

I would like to talk a little bit more about surveys in general. When I was in private practice the word survey was really a “four-letter word” in my books. Surveys seemed to be everywhere, they were always longer then they claimed to be, it seemed like they always asked the wrong questions, it took way too long to see any benefit, and most importantly, I never won the grand prize! However, despite my grumblings, I usually (but not always) seemed to make time for them, recognizing the importance of my contribution. In hindsight, however, I think I should, and could, have done a better job responding to surveys. I have left full-time private practice, but surveys still remain an important part of my life as an epidemiologist and researcher. I have learned more about the importance of veterinary surveys since my days in practice. Surveys are important and sometimes irreplaceable tools for gathering epidemiological information as objectively as possible. Surveys directed to veterinary practitioners collect data about professional opinions and general practices and gather quantitative epidemiological information about animal populations.

I was curious about how much veterinary research involved surveys, so I conducted a miniature (and not official) systematic review of some published literature. I searched JSHAP articles on-line via the AASV Web site. I entered “survey” as a search term and found 1068 hits related to research based on surveys. I then entered “questionnaire” and found 245 hits. I was still curious about the volume of veterinary research involving survey data, so I then went to Google Scholar and typed in “veterinarian” and “survey” and that resulted in over 30,000 hits. I obtained similar large-number results when searching other popular veterinary databases. It was apparent that a large volume of published veterinary literature relied on survey data – and the corresponding response rate that was associated with each survey. The survey topics ranged from biosecurity recommendations, antibiotic use protocols, and emerging animal-disease investigations to veterinarian salary expectations, all very important topics.

One issue that commonly plagues surveys is “response rate,” another four-letter word. Response rate can vary greatly depending on the way the survey is applied, as well as on the target audience. Surveys can be done by face-to-face interview, via mail or e-mail questionnaire, or by telephone interview. I recognize, even more now than ever, the important role that practitioners play in the success of surveys, and I wish I had done a better job as a practitioner with my response rate to surveys. I can say from experience that I have suffered from “survey burn-out” as a practitioner. But now with a better, or perhaps renewed, understanding of how valuable surveys are when it comes to contributing to our peer-reviewed literature and our ability to practice evidence-based veterinary medicine, I encourage practitioners to do a better job than I did when it comes to completing research surveys. Your participation contributes greatly to the body of peer-reviewed literature and to our collective knowledge of veterinary medicine in many topic areas. Take one for the team!

The last readership survey conducted by JSHAP was in 2003 and the response rate was greater than 44%. This is certainly a respectable response rate, but because I am competitive by nature, I want to exceed it. Hence, I challenge every AASV member and JSHAP reader to complete the short (I promise) readership survey and surpass that response rate! There is no prize for completing this survey, but rather just my humble gratitude and the opportunity to be a part of your journal. The higher the survey response rate, the better job we can do for you and for the journal. Besides, if the response rate is low…..we know where to find you!

To change topics slightly, I just returned from the International Pig Veterinary Society (IPVS) Congress in Jeju, South Korea. In fact, I filled out many surveys while I was there – IPVS conference survey, pharmaceutical company surveys, hotel survey, airline survey. The conference was well rounded, with over 3000 participants in attendance, 60 countries represented, and over 1000 scientific abstracts. I participated in the Sunday afternoon Jeju Olle-Trail walk (course C) and have some great memories and beautiful photographs. Thank you to Jeju and the 2012 IPVS planning committee. I am looking forward to the next IPVS in Cancun, Mexico, in 2014.

-- Terri O’Sullivan, DVM, PhD