Weekly Updates

More on the subversive influence of publication metrics 5 October 2015

Posted by on October 4, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

More on the subversive influence of publication metrics                                  5 October 2015 Recently, in an article published in the Medical Journal of Australia (1), Dr Anthony Jorm asked ‘Can a medical researcher have too many publications?’, as did a second article in another journal by Elizabeth Wager and colleagues entitled ‘Too much of a good thing? An observational study of prolific authors.’ (2). Both questioned whether hyper-prolific authors were behaving in a manner consistent with guidelines on authorship. The guidelines on authorship relevant to Australian researchers are those contained in Chapter 5 of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research issued jointly by the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Australian Research Council and Universities Australia (https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines-publications/r39). An Australian study published in 2008 revealed that the group of researchers who were the least familiar with this Code were clinical researchers (3). The relevant wording on authorship in the introduction to Chapter 5 reads: To be named as an author, a researcher must have made a substantial scholarly contribution to the work and be able to take responsibility for at least that part of the work they contributed. Attribution of authorship depends to some extent on the discipline, but in all cases, authorship must be based on substantial contributions in a combination of: conception and design of the project analysis and interpretation of research data drafting significant parts of the work or critically revising it so as to contribute to the interpretation.   The right to authorship is not tied to position or profession and does not depend on whether the contribution was paid for or voluntary. It is not enough to have provided materials or routine technical support, or to have made the measurements on which the publication is based. Substantial intellectual involvement is required.  In addition paragraph 5.5 reads: Authorship should not be offered to those who do not meet the requirements set out above. For example, none of the following contributions, in and of themselves, justifies including a person as an author: being head of department, holding other positions of authority, or personal friendship with the authors providing a technical contribution but no other intellectual input to the project or publication providing routine assistance in some aspects of the project, the acquisition of funding or general supervision of the research team providing data that has already been published or materials obtained from third parties, but with no other intellectual input. At the international level, the Committee on Publication Ethics (http://publicationethics.org/) and the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (http://www.icmje.org/) have each published guidelines on authorship. In addition, many journals also proffer guidance. The Medical Journal of Australia’s website advice about authorship reads as follows: Authorship The MJA’s definition of authorship is based on that of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (http://www.icmje.org/recommendations/browse/roles-and-responsibilities/defining-the-role-of-authors-and-contributors.html) and encompasses the following 4 criteria: Substantial contributions to the concept and design of the article, or analysis and interpretation of data AND 2.   Drafting of the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content AND 3.   Final approval of the version to be published AND 4.   Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the article in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the article are appropriately investigated and resolved Conditions 1, 2, 3 and 4...

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Weekly Report 16 16 September 2015

Posted by on September 13, 2015 in Weekly Report | 0 comments

Our last Weekly Report                                              At its recent meeting, the Steering Committee decided that it was time to change the direction of our campaign. This will be our last Weekly Report. However, for the reasons outlined below, we will maintain our website for the foreseeable future and will add relevant new material as it becomes available (and alert Friends of the MJA by email when this happens). What has our campaign achieved? The starting point of our campaign The MJA is the primary Australian general medical journal for research and academic articles, perspectives and discussion within clinical medicine, health policy and regarding health matters of concern to Australians. Our ‘Friends of the MJA’ campaign started with the aims of reversing bad decisions made by the AMPCo Board about the MJA, and of reinstating the sacked editor, Professor Stephen Leeder. Many in the medical community had reacted in anger and disbelief that the commercially-focussed AMPCo Board had secretly partnered our much-respected MJA with a major international profit-making publisher, Elsevier. Opposition to this decision, which had been made under the cloak of ‘commercial in confidence’, was minimised. Neither the members of the AMA, who are owners of the MJA, nor the MJA readership, were informed or asked their opinion.  Opposition had also been removed by sacking the Editor-in-Chief, Professor Stephen Leeder, after keeping him largely uninformed of the outsourcing negotiations. He protested the decision, giving well-reasoned and researched alternative ways forward for the future of the MJA. An international protest movement Since starting our Friends of the MJA campaign, it has become clear that we are an Australian arm of a global protest against the securing by a relatively few corporate shareholders of ownership of much of the world’s published scientific and medical research, financed directly and indirectly by governments and their people. The protests expressed internationally have included the coordinated response by Dutch universities and their government against Elsevier’s business practices – Elsevier being a Dutch company originally – and the concerted action by thousands of international academics who have indicated their refusal to devote their efforts to increasing Elsevier’s profits.  The latter action, and many others, were well-known and easy to discover by anyone who conducted ‘due diligence’ in examining the affairs and reputation of Elsevier. Australia of course has had its own experience of Elsevier’s past unacceptable activities in the form of the publication of fake medical journals to assist a pharmaceutical company to promote various drugs. It is extremely disappointing for a medical profession with a proud history of collegial and co-operative conduct to realise that neither the present Board of AMPCo nor the present President of the AMA has honoured an initial agreement to discuss with Friends of the MJA our deep concerns and our positive suggestions for the future. It is also disappointing that the interim MJA leaders have failed to inform their readership about the reasons behind the decisions taken by the Board of AMPCo Board and have refused to publish material raising questions about the justification for those decisions. Achievements to date Despite this absence of a response from AMPCo and the AMA, we believe that our campaign and your strong support have produced significant achievements: The campaign has shown the extent and depth of feeling of more than 350 leaders of the medical...

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Weekly Report Issue 15 7 September 2015

Posted by on September 6, 2015 in Weekly Report | 0 comments

Weekly Report Issue 15                      7 September 2015 Further changes at the MJA – an explanatory post-script Last week we wrote about changes at the MJA which included that “the printed MJA no longer provides references to articles and letters and that in the immediate future, only a one-page summary will be provided of any research paper that is published in the printed version. We are told that these changes are in line with the gradual move to publish the MJA on-line only.”  In response, we received an email that was very critical of our comments and that pointed out that both changes pre-dated the arrival of Elsevier and the appointment of an acting Editor. We readily accept that criticism and in hindsight should have been more explicit about the timing of the commencement of the “gradual move to publish the MJA on-line only”.  We now understand that both changes (ie to not publishing references in print and the use of a one page summary) were instigated during the Editorship of Professor Stephen Leeder and followed reader surveys.  We received no other comments so perhaps Friends of the MJA are not concerned about either change to a very long tradition in academic publishing. Presentation to the Sydney symposium  One of the speakers at the recent symposium “Reclaiming the Knowledge Commons: The Ethics of Academic Publishing and the Futures of Research” was the immediate past Editor-in-Chief of the MJA, Professor Stephen Leeder. Reproduced below is the text of his presentation. THE TAKEOVER OF THE MEDICAL JOURNAL OF AUSTRALIA A quick glance at the last page of the most recent issue of the MJA reveals that there is as yet no replacement editor-in-chief and that two of the most senior medical editors – Janusic and Armstrong – are missing in action, as is the Editorial Advisory Committee.  There is an interim editor.  Many of the assistant editors have gone as well – replaced in the AMA president’s memorable words on ABC Radio because all they did was move words around on the page.  This they had been doing, together with checking facts, assertions, arithmetic, grammar, syntax, clarity and originality of submitted papers and keeping the faith in the MJA community some for 20 years.  This activity was now to be done by anonymous staff employed often overseas by the publishing giant Elsevier.  How this role for Elsevier allows them to claim copyright if all  that they are doing is moving words around on the page as you will find they do in the fine print at the bottom of the back page of the MJA describing the editorial staff, I do not know. I assume that it is part of the commercial deal done by the Australasian Publishing Company, AMPCo that used to be the sole publisher of the MJA on behalf of the Australian Medical Association.  If you publish in the MJA now, copyright over your paper is held in part by Elsevier. The large publishing companies that have scooped up and repackaged knowledge and science are like giant fishing trawlers.  I leave it to you to contemplate the similarities.                                                When I took on the job as editor-in-chief a little over two years ago I did so understanding the risks because AMPCo has a grim reputation as an employer and...

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Weekly Report Issue 14 31 August 2015

Posted by on August 30, 2015 in Weekly Report | 0 comments

Weekly Report Issue 14                       31 August 2015 Further changes at the MJA Those of you who took the time to view the podcast interview of the acting Editor of the MJA will now be aware that the printed MJA no longer provides references to articles and letters and that in the immediate future, only a one-page summary will be provided of any research paper that is published in the printed version. We are told that these changes are in line with the gradual move to publish the MJA on-line only.  We have received complaints about these changes, with readers seeing these changes as inimical to academic scholarship. In the words of a senior public health researcher: “What is the point of having references if they are not cited and able to be referenced on reading any hard copy article? The evidence (reference) base should be integral to the published article in whatever format.”  You might wish to comment on these changes at friendsofmja@friendsofmja.net.au or directly to the MJA at https://www.mja.com.au/journal/contact-us Recorded talk now available In an early Weekly Report, it was mentioned that Professor Stephen Leeder had given a talk to medical students at the Australian National University on 18 May 2015 (three weeks after he was sacked). In the talk he covered a wide range of issues but in particular spoke thoughtfully about his difficulties at the MJA. Thanks to the energy of the students, the talk and a subsequent interview have been recorded and are available at https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B_rxBYuwIXqRZVhtTmZIZHVpUzQ&usp=sharing We recommend that you make the time to listen to both. Recent Sydney symposium Last Wednesday 26 August, Sydney University Medical School’s Centre for Values, Ethics & the Law in Medicine conducted a one day symposium on the theme of “Reclaiming the Knowledge Commons: The Ethics of Academic Publishing and the Futures of Research”.  Two members of our Steering Committee attended the symposium. They report that detailed material from the symposium will be made available in the near future at the following website: http://velimblog.org. In the meanwhile, they have summarised briefly for Friends of the MJA their impressions and conclusions from the day: Over the last 20-30 years, rapacious commercial publishers with high profit margins have increasingly squeezed libraries (and the social sciences), limited the publication of books and monographs, charged high prices for restrictive licences, and limited access to research journals.  They have extended their grasp to medical journals. Research journals have become a commodity, and academic publishing has been taken over by profit-maximising business models determined by corporate managers. Universities and academic institutions have contributed to the problems through managerialism and dependence on created metrics, enabling the worst practices of the biggest publishers and establishing a “law of inelastic demand” because access to high-profile journals, and career-promoting publication within them are a constant, required by the scientific and academic communities, resulting in the largest publishing conglomerates charging ever-higher prices. The metrics which determine the careers of academics are created and fed by the publishing companies. Universities then use these “impact factor” indices as they believe they will better position the university on the research tables, and help them attract the best paying students. Universities place little value on teaching ability. Open access is not a catch-all, nor a panacea. It is an umbrella term for many different arrangements,...

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Weekly report 13 August 24, 2015

Posted by on August 23, 2015 in Weekly Report | 0 comments

Weekly report 13                               August 24, 2015                                            In this issue This week, we remind you of an important free symposium in Sydney, invite you to view a brief interview with the Acting Editor of the MJA, publish an article rejected by the MJA, and comment on the furphy of AMA members subsidising the MJA. Last minute reminder Reclaiming the Knowledge Commons: The Ethics of Academic Publishing and the Futures of Research SYMPOSIUM WED 26 AUG 2015 9:00-4:30 STATE LIBRARY, MACQUARIE STREET, SYDNEY Speakers include: Emeritus Professor Stephen Leeder, Professor Paul Komesaroff, Associate Professor Andrew Bonnell,  Dr John Byron, JoAnne Sparks, Dr Virginia Barbour, Rosalia Garcia (SAGE), and Professor Christopher Wright. Chair: Dr Claire Hooker Program 9:00-10:45   Session 1: Corporatization and the commercialization of knowledge 11:15-1:00   Session 2: Democratizing knowledge or selling the farm?: Varieties of ‘Open Access’, and the possibilities of the new digital commons 2:00-4:00     Session 3: Taking up the challenge of ethical academic publication The event is catered and registration is free   REGISTER HERE sydney.edu.au/medicine/velim/news/index.php Meet the interim editor If you have missed it, we recommend that you spend five minutes viewing an in-house interview with Interim MJA Editor, Dr Charles Guest, and form your own view about the immediate well-being of the nation’s medical journal.  Just go to https://www.mja.com.au/multimedia and scroll down. And another article rejected by the MJA MJA readers will have enjoyed the contributions of Dr Jack Best AO to the journal over the last couple of years under the column “Best of Best”. Below is a contribution entitled “The Rubicon is a Stream not Difficult to Re-cross” which was recently rejected by the MJA. We believe that it deserves to be published. “Let me be upfront: I was not pleased with how Stephen Leeder as Editor-in Chief of this Journal was sacked. OK! He disagreed with management who planned to outsource production to Elsevier. So what? An effective editor is an effective editor.   Paradoxically, Leeder was born at the tail end of the “Silent Generation” period as I was. Leeder certainly does not fit the image used by Time in 1951, in which the children of the generation were described as unimaginative, withdrawn, unadventurous, and cautious. In fact his distinguished career is effusively recognized by both the Chair of the AMPCo Board and the President of the AMA.   The Chair of the Board Mr Richard Allely is no stranger to having to deal with large losses and reduction in size of a printing company. Recently he was CEO of a “billion dollar” publishing enterprise. He has had a long career as a financial officer and presumably can define the bottom line to the last bead on his bamboo abacus. However is Mr Allely the person that the Medical Journal of Australia needs as chairman of the company that publishes it? Obviously the Board of the Australian Medical Association does think so, as judged by the pronouncements of the current President, Associate Professor Brian Owler.   At the heart of the argument is that the Journal should cost less to produce. There is no question about the content or the editorial policy that has been recognizing and proposing ways to adapt to the seismic changes occurring in the publishing industry. My personal experience of the assistant editorial and production staff and administration is that they are both knowledgeable and meticulous. A lack of diligence is the...

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Special Issue Update 19 August 2015

Posted by on August 19, 2015 in Weekly Report | Comments Off on Special Issue Update 19 August 2015

Special Issue Update                                     19 August 2015 Proposed meeting denied Shortly after Weekly Report Issue 12 was dispatched, the Steering Committee received an e-mail informing us that the AMPCo Board now refused to meet a small delegation from Friends of the MJA. No reason was provided. Disappointing and disrespectful of our membership, this is consistent with the recent behaviour of the AMPCo Board. The Steering Committee will soon discuss our next steps. Meanwhile, we felt that Friends would be interested to read the exchanges regarding the proposed meeting. Letter to AMA President, 22 June 2015 Associate Professor Brian Owler, President, Australian Medical Association Dear Associate Professor Owler,                                                             I write to seek your agreement to meet with a small deputation from the “Friends of the MJA”. Friends of the MJA was formed in May this year with two aims: to provide information to the medical profession and other MJA readers and contributors and to gauge the level of support for recent actions of the AMPCo Board. The MJA is Australia’s most widely read and trusted medical journal.  It has been a vehicle for high quality Australian-based research and for promoting public health, including indigenous health. It is a resource and a voice that all Australian doctors should be grateful for. The AMA deserves to be rightly proud of its 100 years of stewardship of the Journal. We acknowledge that a contract has been signed with Elsevier and that there is to be no turning back from the recent decisions of the AMPCo Board. However from the extensive feedback we have received from now over 500* Friends of the MJA, we believe that we have some very positive suggestions for you about how trust in the editorship and management of the MJA might be restored after this recent acrimonious debate. [*This includes 350 members and another 175 people who signed a petition addressed to you] We have been accused of seeking to harm the MJA. Nothing could be further from the truth.  Our wish is to see the MJA prosper, not only financially but also as the premier medical journal serving all Australians.  However, many readers of the MJA have been alarmed by recent events.  Researchers and reviewers are generally not members of the AMA and so have found certain decisions precipitate, non-transparent and incomprehensible.  They are especially alarmed at the prospect that profit generated from their intellectual contributions might end up in the pockets of overseas shareholders.  Furthermore, these contributors have all read the ongoing bad press about Reed-Elsevier, which has only added to their concern.  I am sure you can understand their reactions.  The success and influence of the MJA owes much to contributions from such AMA non-members.  These people, although essential to the quality of the MJA, currently have no voice in its governance. There is however much good will and much hope that the MJA can continue its role.  We believe there is still common ground, and we should explore this for the sake of the future of the MJA. We also see the MJA as important to the reputation of the AMA.  We would be greatly helped by hearing directly from you about the reasoning behind the recent AMPCo decisions and about the AMA’s vision for the future of the MJA. On our part, “Friends” would...

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Weekly Report Issue 12 August 17, 2015

Posted by on August 17, 2015 in Weekly Report | 0 comments

Weekly Report Issue 12                        August 17, 2015                                                         The issues are not going away Membership of Friends of the MJA continues to grow as awareness of deep concerns over the future of the journal gradually increases within the wider medical community. Visitors to our website http://www.friendsofmja.net.au recently went past the 5,000 mark and daily visits are not declining.  At the same time, local and international awareness of the problems with the business model used by Reed Elsevier and other large publishing companies is also increasing (see below).                                                                                                                        Meeting with AMPCo Board In our Weekly Report 10 dated 20 July, we reported that in response to our request we had been offered the opportunity to meet with the four members of the AMPCo Board. To date, arrangements are yet to be confirmed by AMPCo. Letter to the MJA rejected Friends of the MJA may have observed that no explanation has been provided within the pages of the MJA about the changes decided upon by the AMPCo Board. In early July, the Steering Committee therefore submitted the following letter to the MJA for publication: “Changes at the journal We write on behalf of 350 Friends of the MJA whose names can be found at http://www.friendsofmja.net.au. Most are senior academics who, for no fees, support, publish in, or review for the journal. Sixty-five have been honoured for services to medicine. Like other readers of the journal, we first learned of the peremptory sacking of Editor-in-Chief, Professor Leeder and AMPCo’s decision to outsource the publication and some subediting of the journal to Elsevier via the general media in early May this year (1). The treatment of Professor Leeder and the decision to enter into an agreement with Elsevier raise questions which readers deserve to have answered by AMPCo and/or the journal’s owner, the AMA. These questions include: What is the medical publishing experience of each AMPCo Board member? Does their knowledge and experience of international medical publishing qualify them to fully gauge the implications and risks of linking with Elsevier? What was the extent of the AMPCo Board’s due diligence?  Were Board members aware not only of the past unethical behaviour of Elsevier (2) and the international boycott of Elsevier by more than 15,000 researchers (3), but also of the international concern over their pricing policy on access to the findings of publicly funded medical research (4)? Were AMPCo Board members aware that history was repeating itself via their actions (5)? Why did the AMA not seek the views of the AMA members as to their willingness to continue to subsidise the iconic journal owned by the members? What were the recent profit and loss figures for the journal? What were Professor Leeder’s plans for cost savings?  Why were these not preferable to the Elsevier agreement? Is the AMPCo Board prepared to make available the substance of the contract signed with Elsevier?  What are the implications of the contract for reader access and for subscription prices? How will editorial independence from the AMPCo Board and from the AMA be preserved?   The journal plays a vital role in Australian medicine and health care. As much as we wish to see the journal prosper, we are concerned about its future without a frank and open dialogue with its readers.   Kerry Breen (on behalf...

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Weekly Report Issue 11 July 27, 2015

Posted by on July 27, 2015 in Weekly Report | 0 comments

Weekly Report Issue 11                                      July 27, 2015 Advice on boycotting   The Steering Committee has received correspondence on the subject of boycotting the MJA. Your Committee’s policy is that it does not advocate a systematic boycott by reviewers, contributors and readers. We hold this view at present because we are passionate about the standing of MJA, and as Friends of the MJA, we do not wish to aggravate the harm done to the journal. Depending upon the course of events in the months ahead, and especially should our worst fears about Elsevier’s involvement be realised, this policy might need to be reviewed. The Vice-Chancellors of the Dutch universities, with the support of the Dutch government, have, for example, this very month, urged their academics and researchers to mount a staged boycott of Elsevier journals: (a) all Dutch editors-in-chief to resign; (b) reviewers to stop reviewing and finally (c) authors and researchers to stop submitting papers. We recognise that many Friends remain distressed by the events of late April and are likely to continue to feel strongly about various means of showing displeasure at those events.  What actions might be taken are, of course, up to individuals to decide for themselves. One approach that might appeal to some is the idea of signing any contribution to the MJA with the tag “Friend of the MJA” or stating “Dr Jane Doe is a member of Friends of the MJA: http://www.friendsofmja.net.au”. Another approach would be to join over 15,000 academics who have signed up to protest over the business practices of Elsevier at http://thecostofknowledge.com/ . Editors beware! Your attention has already been drawn to the sacking of the last two editors at the MJA.  Sacking seems to be a serious career hazard for editors of medical journals owned by national medical associations. Here is an analysis of the history of such sackings written by Steering Committee member, Dr Peter Arnold. Sacking the Editors The MJA might not be the only prestigious medical journal to indulge in sacking its editors, but it warrants an entry in the Guinness Book of Records. Editors have been sacked before by major medical journals. The editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association (RH Moser MD) was sacked in 1975 and George Lundberg MD (a Friend of the MJA) was sacked in 1999. The editor of the New England Journal of Medicine (Jerome Kassirer MD) was sacked in 1999. The editor and his deputy of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (Dr John Hoey and Dr Ann Marie Todkill) were sacked in 2006, even though the Canadian Medical Association, after a major 2002 dispute on editorial independence, had appointed an Editorial Oversight Committee. The interim 2006 editors of the CMAJ, Dr Stephen Choe and another Deputy Editor, Dr Sally Murray, resigned within a week. The editor of the Irish Medical Journal (Dr Eoin O’Brien) was sacked in 1988. The editors of the Croatian Medical Journal (Dr  Matko Marusic and Dr Ana Marusic) were sacked in 2008. The editor of the Norwegian Medical Journal, Tidsskriftet for Den Norske Legeforening, (Dr Charlotte Haug) was sacked this year. But, since the mid-1950s, none can hold a candle to the performance of the AMA and its publishing subsidiary (AMPCo) in its turnover of editors. As Jose Lapena Jr wrote in the December...

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Weekly Report Issue 10 July 20, 2015

Posted by on July 19, 2015 in Weekly Report | 0 comments

Weekly Report Issue 10                            July 20, 2015                                                                                                                           Meeting with AMPCo Board In response to our request for a delegation to meet with the AMA President, we have been offered the opportunity to meet with the four members of the AMPCo Board. The proposed date is August 20th. In preparation for the meeting, the Steering Committee has listed the following issues it wishes to discuss at the meeting and has also identified three proposals it will make to the AMPCo Board to help restore the standing of the MJA among its long-term supporters. Your feedback on this list and the proposals is invited so as to help make the meeting productive.  Please email your comments to friendsofmja@friendsofmja.net.au Issues and proposals Issues The need for a deeper understanding of the Board’s rationale for it decision to outsource, and the nature of the agreement with Elsevier. The world-wide history and current issues of medical associations and their journals. What has been learnt from the MJA historical record of irreconcilable disputes and differences between editors and the AMPCo Board/AMA. The potential impact of international campaigns against Elsevier on recruitment of a suitable new editor. Three proposals To strengthen and broaden the expertise on the AMPCo Board, we recommend that the AMA appoint two additional Board members with experience in medical publishing and who are not presently serving the AMA in any Federal or State office. We recommend that the expanded AMPCo Board develop a charter of editorial independence (addressing independence for the Editor in day-to-day publishing matters and independence of the AMPCo Board from the Federal Executive of the AMA) We recommend that there be established an Editorial Board to support the work of the Editor. Appointments to the Editorial Board will be made by AMPCo, based on the recommendations of the Editor. Another déjà vu story Three weeks ago, we shared the history of the editor of the MJA recruited from the USA in 1982.  Should you think that this is a rare event in medical publishing, you might need to think again. Read this full account of the sudden sacking of a highly respected editor of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (Sackings at the Canadian Medical Association Journal and editorial independence. Med J Aust 2006; 184 (11): 543-545.). It was written by the then editor of the MJA, Dr Martin Van der Weyden. In a nutshell, the CMAJ Editor-in-Chief of ten years standing was summarily sacked by the publishing arm of the Canadian Medical Association on what appeared to be flimsy grounds (later it became clear that the issue was around editorial independence). The sacking was widely condemned in Canada and beyond. Subsequently, the Acting Editor and 16 of 19 members of the Editorial Board resigned. As Dr Van der Weyden wrote, “there was dismay and disquiet in the Canadian medical community” and “anger among academics, researchers and clinicians”. The public outcry got responses. The publisher agreed to a commitment to editorial independence and an independent external review was conducted to examine the events and to make recommendations for the future. The parallels with recent events at the MJA are remarkable. So far, only the outcome is different. Perhaps Canadian doctors were better informed or had more respect for their national medical journal than do Australian doctors? Perhaps Friends of...

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Weekly Report Issue 9 July 13 2015

Posted by on July 12, 2015 in Weekly Report | 0 comments

Weekly Report Issue 9                                                                                                                                                                                              July 13 2015                                   Reminder to all Friends As mentioned last week, most practising doctors are still unaware of what has happened at the MJA. Even those who are AMA members and receive the MJA regularly are likely to be unaware, as the actions of the AMPCo Board and the sacking of Professor Leeder have not been mentioned in the journal.  So please, again think about passing information on to colleagues and help publicise our website http://www.friendsofmja.net.au The company you are keeping Our website’s full list of Friends includes many of the most senior members of the medical profession.  Of the over 350 Friends, 181 are professors or emeritus professors while 65 have been awarded Australian honours for services to medicine and health care. These are joined by many younger doctors and by other health professionals deeply concerned about the future for the MJA. The members of Steering Committee collectively have published over 200 articles in the MJA. The mind boggles at what the statistics would be for the articles published and peer reviews conducted over the years by our 350 Friends. You will recall that when you registered on our website, you could record your support or otherwise for the decisions taken by the AMPCo Board.  Eight people who registered ticked the ‘Undecided’ box while the remainder of you supported the Steering Committee’s views. Although our website included all the information provided by the AMA and AMPCo, not one person indicated support for their actions. Why we object to Elsevier When the news of the changes at the MJA first broke in early May, the focus of distress was on the sacking of the very fine Editor-in-Chief, Professor Stephen Leeder.  The significance of the information that international conglomerate, Elsevier, had been invited to publish and provide some editorial services for the MJA took a little longer to be appreciated. Several aspects of this decision raise serious concerns, including the documented past conduct of the Australian office of Elsevier, the company’s business model, and the apparent lack of consultation with and forewarning of the experienced MJA editorial and publishing staff. Today we expand on our concerns about Elsevier with new material which demonstrates that these concerns are mounting internationally.  We hope to have more information about the welfare of the MJA staff at a later date. The documented past conduct of Elsevier The phoney medical journals story came to light through a court case involving pharmaceutical company, Merck. It was revealed that between 2000 and 2005, Elsevier had published six ‘journals’ made to look like peer reviewed medical journals. These carried the titles of Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine, Australasian Journal of General Practice, Australasian Journal of Neurology, Australasian...

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