Two weeks in China and counting

By Roger Watson |

Three to go.

Blog by Roger Watson

The teacher learns a lesson: There is no substitute for good planning.

Roger WatsonYANGZHOU, China—As I write this blog entry, the UK is, apparently, still part of Europe! I am very glad to be here in China if only to escape news, views, and arguments over our forthcoming general election. I will be home in time to vote, but I can do that without having to listen to too much sloganeering. Frankly, while the past few years since the Brexit vote have been a media bonanza, I think many of my compatriots want a prolonged period without politics.

Hong Kong
You cannot have missed the increasingly dreadful news from Hong Kong. I only mention it here because faculty at my university are now banned from going to Hong Kong, and I noticed that my former university—Sheffield—has urgently recalled all exchange students. I was even questioned by senior management at my university for transiting through Hong Kong on my way to China. But the airport is probably one of the safest places now. All movement to it is being closely monitored to ensure there is no surge of protesters. I am in daily contact with colleagues in Hong Kong. Some do not expect to return to work for a long time—all the universities are closed—and they are struggling to support their students.

I am based in Wuhan, Hubei Province, for nearly five weeks. Unfortunately, despite arranging a visa for her, my wife is not with me. She is unable to travel due to acute lower-back pain and is in the process of having investigations. The basis for my visit is what is grandly called a High-End Foreign Expert Scholarship. This Chinese government-funded initiative is administered at the provincial level, so mine was awarded by Hubei Province. The stipulation is that I spend 30 days in China. Because my academic visitor visa is for 30 days, I must be out on the final day. Nothing can go wrong!

Roger Watson visits ChinaMy duties, which involve some teaching, are mainly concerned with meeting Master of Nursing students to discuss manuscripts arising from their degree projects. I receive a stream of manuscripts in various states of preparation and a wide range of quality. Nearly all must be substantially rewritten.

I ask each student the same thing, “Have you selected a journal?” The answer is usually no. The palpable cultural difference between these students and ours in the UK is compounded by difficulty in searching the internet. Google and all Google-based platforms, including Google Scholar, are blocked here. Independent thinking is not part of the curriculum in China, and most students here are publication mills for their supervisors.

There is also the expectation that I will want to add my name as a co-author to manuscripts that I edit. Unless I have been involved in advising on the research project, I turn down the offer. But it provides an opportunity to give my usual lecture on publication ethics, emphasizing eligibility for authorship, and referring them to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) for guidance. I sound critical but, in fact, am awestruck by their hard work and ability to write even a poor manuscript draft in a second language.

I spent a week in Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province, at Yangzhou University School of Nursing teaching Master of Nursing students. I visited Yangzhou earlier this year. Our university teaches a joint undergraduate program here, so I am only one of a steady stream of University of Hull faculty members visiting Yangzhou.

I taught for five days and was lulled into a false sense of security after a great first day with the students. On Days 2 and 3, I simply could not connect with them and had to abandon my planned lectures. I then suggested another topic, to which they agreed, and the final two days were a pleasure. It was a lesson to me—even in the twilight of my teaching career—that there is no substitute for good planning. There were faults on both sides here; the desired content and level could have been better conveyed. But I could have asked for greater clarity about the class. Next time, it will be better.

Nursing Open
Some of you may already have seen the news, as my excellent editorial colleague Sarah Oerther has been tweeting about it. My journal Nursing Open has been accepted for impact measurement by Science Citation Index. The minimum time to achieve this is three years, and we have done it in five, which is good. This makes us the first gold open-access, online nursing journal to be on the list, and in 2020 we will receive our first impact factor.

I am, as you can imagine, very pleased and proud of my colleagues on the journal—past and present—who have helped us achieve this. Nursing Open was conceived over coffee with two Wiley colleagues six years ago in Cork, Ireland, during a meeting of the International Academy of Nursing Editors (INANE) held in town that year.

Before the end of this year, I will report on my final weeks in China. That will be my last entry for 2019. RNL

Roger Watson, PhD, RN, FRCP Edin, FRCN, FAAN, professor of nursing at the University of Hull in the United Kingdom and a frequent visitor to Australia and China, where he has visiting positions, is editor-in-chief of JAN and editor of Nursing Open. Click here to access Blogger-resident entries posted before 2017 in Watson’s former blog “Hanging smart.”

You can also listen to this post as a podcast.

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