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Canadian publisher responds to mass resignations

Today, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) released an linkurl:Open Letter;http://www.cma.ca/multimedia/CMA/Content_Images/Inside_cma/Media_Release/pdf/2006/CMA_President_Editorial_Board.pdf to the majority of the Editorial board members of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) who resigned this week after ongoing disputes with the CMA over the journal?s editorial independence. In the letter, CMA president Ruth Collins-Nakai says she "takes great exception" to the former

By | March 17, 2006

Today, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) released an linkurl:Open Letter;http://www.cma.ca/multimedia/CMA/Content_Images/Inside_cma/Media_Release/pdf/2006/CMA_President_Editorial_Board.pdf to the majority of the Editorial board members of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) who resigned this week after ongoing disputes with the CMA over the journal?s editorial independence. In the letter, CMA president Ruth Collins-Nakai says she "takes great exception" to the former board members? characterization that the publisher is not doing enough to ensure the journal?s editorial independence. She points to the first editorial principle governing the CMAJ, which asserts that the CMA "accepts and respects the necessity of editorial independence of the Editor-in-Chief." She adds that the CMA has tried to meet the demands of the editorial board, including reconstituting the Journal Oversight Committee. The CMA "sought to strengthen the journal," she says, while the board members? linkurl:decision to resign;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/23234/ appears "aimed at undermining it." However, Collins-Nakai affirms that the journal will be governed by nine principles ? not the 10 principles originally proposed by one of the interim editors, Stephen Choi (who has linkurl:since resigned;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/23220/ .) The missing principle? "Editorial independence of the editor-in-chief will be absolutely protected." Sidestepping that sentence -- even if it is redundant, as some would claim -- makes it seem like the publisher is trying to chip away at the journal?s independence, even if this is not the case. The journal?s reputation is incredibly vulnerable right now -- the CMAJ is now down to three part-time scientific editors, and a small fraction of its editorial board, all a result of this mess -- and one would think that the CMA should be bending over backward to demonstrate to a skeptical readership that the journal?s integrity is intact. Yesterday, the remaining CMAJ editors defended their decision to stay at the publication. "We will be, we suspect, reviled by some Canadian physicians and medical journal editors for choosing to step in," write the acting chief editor Noni MacDonald and Editor Emeritus Bruce Squires linkurl:in an editorial;http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/rapidpdf/cmaj.060352v1 . However, the editors say they are sticking it out of concern for the journal and Canadian medicine. "Also, we are assured by CMA and CMA Media that we will have complete editorial independence."
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