Davis RM, Mullner M. "Editorial independence at medical journals owned by professional associations: A survey of editors" Science and Engineering Ethics 8(4):513-528 October 2002

Eugene Garfield garfield at CODEX.CIS.UPENN.EDU
Fri May 28 14:04:27 EDT 2004

Ronald M. Davis : rdavis at hfhs.org
Marcus Mullner  : marcus.muellner at univie.ac.at

TITLE   Editorial independence at medical journals owned by professional
        associations: A survey of editors
AUTHOR  Davis RM, Mullner M

Document type: Article     Language: English     Cited References: 44
Times Cited: 1      Explanation

The purpose of this study was to assess the degree of editorial
independence at a sample of medical journals and the relationship between
the journals and their owners. We surveyed the editors of 33 medical
journals owned by not-for-profit organizations ("associations"), including
10 journals represented on the International Committee of Medical Journal
Editors (nine of which are general medical journals) and a random sample of
23 specialist journals with high impact factors that are indexed by the
Institute for Scientific Information. The main outcome measures were the
authority to hire, fire, and oversee the work of the editor; the editor's
tenure and financial compensation; control of the journal's budget;
publication of material about the association; and the editor's perceptions
about editorial independence and pressure over editorial content. Of the 33
editors, 23 (70%) reported having complete editorialfreedom, and the
remainder reported a high level of freedom (a score of greater than or
equal to 8, where 10 equals complete editorial freedom and 1 equals no
editorial freedom). Nevertheless, a substantial minority of editors
reported having received at least some pressure in recent years over
editorial content from the association's leadership (42%), senior staff
(30%), or rank-and-file members (39010). The association's board of
directors has the authority to hire (48%) or fire (55%) the editor for
about half of the journals, and the editor reports to the board for 10
journals (30%). Twenty-three editors (70%) are appointed for a specific
term (median term = 5 years). Three-fifths of the journals have no control
over their profit, and the majority of journals use the association's legal
counsel and/or media relations staff. Stronger safeguards are needed to
give editors protection against pressure over editorial content, including
written guarantees of editorial freedom and governance structures that
support those guarantees. Strong safeguards are also needed because editors
may have less freedom than they believe (especially if they have not yet
tested their freedom in an area of controversy).

This paper illustrates a very common use of JCR's category listing.  Two
journals from each category were selected as indicated in the quoted
paragraph below.

"We derived a sample of specialist journals as follows.  First we obtained
a list of the categories of scientific journals used by the Institute for
Scientific Information (www.isinet.com) in its Journal Citation Reports.
We identified 37 of these categories as being most relevant to medicine and
health.  We excluded the category "Medicine, General and Internal"  because
it overlapped with the journals represented on the ICMJE, and we then
randomly selected 12 of the remaining 36 categories.  Within each of these
12 categories, we selected two journals for inclusion in the sample; the
North American journal and the non-North American journal with the
highest "impact factor" a measure used to rank journals according to the
number of citations to the articles they publish.  "

Author Keywords:
editors, editorial independence, editorial freedom, medical journals,
scientific journals

KeyWords Plus:

Davis RM, Henry Ford Hlth Syst, Ctr Hlth Promot & Dis Prevent, 1 Ford
Pl,5C, Detroit, MI 48202 USA
Henry Ford Hlth Syst, Ctr Hlth Promot & Dis Prevent, Detroit, MI 48202 USA
Univ Vienna, Sch Med, Vienna Gen Hosp, Dept Emergency Med, A-1090 Vienna,


IDS Number:


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