Clare Pierard: Carrying forward a 91-year tradition of publishing the latest research

Clare Pierard:  Carrying forward a 91-year tradition of publishing the latest research

Keeping the global TB community informed about the latest research on tuberculosis has been one of The Union’s most important functions for nearly a century. The 1920 founding members came from countries as distant as China and Chile, Sweden and Siam, and they were determined to share their knowledge and experience with each other to defeat TB. They produced the first issue of the quarterly Bulletin of the International Union Against Tuberculosis in 1923, and The Union’s scientific publishing tradition has continued ever since. For the past 22 years, Clare Pierard has been at the centre of this vital work.

A New Zealander with a double Masters in French and Spanish and accreditation as a translator, Clare left a teaching position at the Sorbonne to join The Union in 1991.  

“In those days, the quarterly Bulletin was produced in three languages, and most of the Paris office’s 12 staff were involved. The editing, translating and typesetting all took place here,” she recalls.

Clare had been hired to oversee the merger of the Bulletin with the UK-based Tubercle to create a new journal, called Tubercle and Lung Disease.  Five years later, in 1997, The Union brought the operation back in-house and founded the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IJTLD) with Clare as Managing Editor. In 1998, the IJTLD went from a bimonthly to a monthly publication, a reflection of its increasing success.

Since then, the IJTLD has grown exponentially, and today Clare's job entails coordinating the efforts of three Editors-in-Chief (EICs), 80 Associate Editors, 700 reviewers and the authors of more than 900 articles submitted each year from around the world.

She names the journal’s distinguished EICs with pride and pleasure: Jacques Chrétien, Michael Iseman, Nulda Beyers, Moira Chan-Yeung, Donald Enarson – and the current incumbents Wing-Wai Yew, Martien Borgdorff and Guy Marks.

“Our goal at the journal has always been to reflect The Union’s priorities,” she says, pointing out that in addition to being the “go-to” journal for information about TB research, practice and policy, the IJTLD offers important articles on lung health and related issues.

In 2011, Clare helped to launch The Union’s second journal, Public Health Action (PHA). This fully open-access online quarterly is dedicated to highlighting operational research on the quality, accessibility and equity of health services for the poor.

As the scope and volume of The Union’s scholarly publishing have increased, Clare has also been pleased to see the proportion of research from low- and middle-income countries increase dramatically over the past two decades. For example, a December 2013 editorial in PHA that she co-authored with EIC Don Enarson cited that, in its first two years, 41% of the articles came from Africa, 32% from South-East Asia, 17% from the Western Pacific, 5% from the Eastern Mediterranean, 3% from the Americas and 2% from Europe.

However, the changes with the biggest impact have come from the evolution of online publishing. “When I first came to The Union, copyediting was done by hand and the fax machine was the great innovation,” she says.

The IJTLD first went online through Ingenta in 2001, and in that year the average number of articles accessed each month was 268. By 2013, the number of full-text downloads had risen to 15,800 per month – a vivid demonstration of how the Internet has increased access to scientific research.

According to Clare, this high number of downloads has had a positive effect on the journal’s Impact Factor, a measure of how many times a journal is cited in published research. “We’re currently at 2.610, which is not bad for a specialised journal”.

For many people around the world, the IJTLD is The Union, and a recent membership survey found that the two main reasons people joined were to support our mission – and to receive the journal.

Beyond members and subscribers, the visibility and reach of the journal have also been greatly increased by the 2008 decision to make all issues open access six months after publication.

Despite the pressures of producing two journals with only one full-time editorial assistant, Clare is pleased to note that no issue has ever gone to press late in the 22 years of her tenure. A very impressive feat!

While some people advise not taking your work home with you at the end of the day, this is probably impossible for Clare: since 2001, she has been married to Dr Arnaud Trébucq, head of The Union’s TB Technical Assistance Unit. For her the needed change of focus comes from music.  A lyric soprano from a large family of musicians, she gives regular recitals in Paris and abroad and at summer music festivals.

Sometimes she even succeeds in bringing these two disparate worlds together. Recently, at the end of a long day at the World Conference, she gave a standing-room-only concert as a benefit for The Union.  


Photo: Jens Jeske/The Union