Media reports and links to media reports

Sydney Morning Herald (online) 2 June 2015

“Why the future of the Medical Journal of Australia is everyone’s business”

Professor Jeremy Braithwaite

The Guardian 2011

“Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist”

George Monbiot

Radio National “Rear Vision” May 24

“Big deals in the knowledge business”

This segment of Rear Vision provides fascinating insight into the cost of access to new scientific and medical knowledge via the multinational publishing companies like Elsevier.

Australian Doctor (on line 5 May 2015)

“A nail in the heart of the MJA”


Crikey/ Croakey

“’Friends of the MJA’ call for reversal of AMPCo decisions to sack editor, outsource to Elsevier”


Bishop Blog: Ramblings on Academic-related matters:

“Will Elsevier ever say sorry?”


Canadian Medical Association Journal


Crikey/ Croakey


and coverage in France ! (NB A rough English translation can be obtained on this site)


SMH Online

**This is a “must read” report – the online version contains a shocking allegation.

Medical Observer

Backers start website in fight to reinstate Leeder

In the USA

ABC Online

Backlash over decision by Australia’s top medical journal to outsource to company with history of ‘unethical’ behaviour

By medical reporter Sophie Scott


The Conversation

Former editor: outsourcing puts Medical Journal of Australia at risk  

By Stephen Leeder, University of Sydney

and see also


ABC Radio PM

AMA defends integrity of medical journal


Sydney Morning Herald

Medical journal editor sacked and editorial committee resigns   and see

Doctors protest at changes to Medical Journal of Australia 


India Gazette


The Times


The Guardian




The Medical Journal of Australia vs Elsevier

May 6, 2015

While Mike’s been off having fun at the Royal Society, this has been happening:

Lots of feathers flying right now over the situation at the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA). The short, short version is that AMPCo, the company that publishes MJA, made plans to outsource production of the journal, and apparently some sub-editing and administrative functions as well, to Elsevier. MJA’s editor-in-chief, Professor Stephen Leeder, raised concerns about the journal getting involved with one of the most ethically problematic publishing companies in existence. And also about this having been done without consultation.

He was sacked for his trouble.

After Leeder was pushed out, his job was offered to MJA’s deputy editor, Tania Janusic. She declined, and resigned from the journal, as did 19 of the 20 members of the journal’s editorial advisory committee. (Some accounts say 18. Anyway, 90%+ of the committee is gone.)

When we first discussed the situation via email, Mike wrote, “My take is that at the present stage of the OA transition, editorial board resignations from journals controlled by predatory legacy publishers are about the most important visible steps that can be taken. Very good news for the world, even though it must be a mighty pain for the people involved.”

Yes. I feel pretty bad for the people involved, but I’m hugely supportive of what they’re doing.

I don’t know what we can do to materially contribute here, beyond amplifying the signal and lending our public support to Leeder, Janusic, and the 19 editors who resigned. That’s a courageous thing to do, but no-one should have to do it. The sooner we move to a world where scientific results and other forms of scholarly publication are freely available to all, instead of under the monopolistic control of a handful of exploitative, hugely profitable corporations, the better.

A short list of links, nowhere near exhaustive, if you’d like to read more:

UPDATE: In the first comment below, Alex Holcombe pointed us to this post written by Leeder himself, explaining the reasoning and consequences of his decision.

Also, dunno how I forgot this – if you haven’t already, you might be interested in signing the Cost of Knowledge boycott against Elsevier. Here’s the link.

The Elsevier blight strikes again: This time it’s the Medical Journal of Australia

May 5, 2015 | 2:26 pm

By Paul St John Mackintosh


Predatory and mercenary scientific and medical publishing companies are once again penetrating to the heartland of healthcare and defiling everything they touch. This time, like the headline says, it’s the Medical Journal of Australia that has been besmirched, a journal which “publishes the latest Australian clinical research, evidence-based reviews and debate on the important issues affecting Australian health care. The MJA was first published in 1914, and is ranked in the top 30 general medical journals in the world.”

Well, maybe not any more, thanks to Elsevier and its sympathizers. According to reports in the Australian Medical Observer and in other Australian media, the MJA‘s editor, Professor Stephen Leeder, was sacked when he objected to a plan to outsource production of the journal to Elsevier. The MJA‘s editorial advisory committee then resigned almost to a man in protest. Full details, courtesy of Retraction Watch, are here.

The decision was taken by AMPCo (the Australasian Medical Publishing Company), “a fully owned subsidiary of the Australian Medical Association,” which has been concerned enough about the reputational damage of its decision to share an “open letter to the medical community” from Richard Allely, its chairman. The letter states that:

We sought Professor Leeder’s feedback on the outsourcing proposal and explored alternative plans with him and his editorial team. All concerns raised by the editorial team were acknowledged and seriously considered by the Board. After proper due diligence, the Board decided to outsource the production process only to an external provider (Elsevier) with editorial direction, content development and IP remaining wholly within the Journal as a separate function. Elsevier will only facilitate the operational production of the MJA.

Leaving details of the personal treatment of Professor Leeder aside (which have been extensively covered by the Australian investigative website Crikey), the MJA committee, according to reports, was particularly concerned over a past scandal where Elsevier had produced off a publication, the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine, without declaration that it was not an independent peer-reviewed journal, but in fact a paid production of pharma giant Merck – news that only came to light in the context of a personal injury suit over a Merck drug. At the time, according to the NYT, Elsevier admitted that its Australian office had created paid-for compilations “that were made to look like medical journals and lacked the proper disclosures.”

This is the same Elsevier boycotted by academics, and fingered in attempts to take open access research offline, whose chairman, Y.S. Chi, conceded a while back that publishers in general have “an image problem.” No shit. I wonder why. And that particular Australian case is only one of the very many that have arisen around Elsevier’s business practices in a great many areas and markets.

AMPCo, as indicated, is hiding behind the fig leaf that Elsevier’s involvement would have been confined to production only, with editorial responsibility strictly separate. Apparently Leeder, his editorial team, and almost the entire MJA advisory committee disagreed. And if they turned a blind eye to business issues and simply took the view that to work with such a company would have irrevocably tarnished the MJA‘s reputation, well who can blame them? After all, that’s exactly what has happened. *************************************************************

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