Medical journal editors lacked familiarity with scientific publication issues despite training and regular exposure

Department of Neurology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.
Journal of clinical epidemiology (Impact Factor: 5.48). 11/2011; 65(3):247-52. DOI: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2011.08.003
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT To characterize medical editors by determining their demographics, training, potential sources of conflict of interest (COI), and familiarity with ethical standards.
We selected editors of clinical medical journals with the highest annual citation rates. One hundred eighty-three editors were electronically surveyed (response rate, 52%) on demographics and experiences with editorial training, publication ethics, industry, and scientific publication organizations.
Editors reported formal (76%) and informal (89%) training in medical editing topics. Most editors saw publication ethics issues (e.g., authorship, COIs) at least once a year. When presented with four questions about editorial issues discussed in commonly cited authoritative policy sources, performance was poor on topics of authorship (30% answered correctly), COI (15%), peer review (16%), and plagiarism (17%). Despite this, confidence level in editorial skills on a Likert scale from the beginning to the end of the survey dropped only slightly from 4.2 to 3.9 (P<0.0001).
Our study presents a current look at editors of major clinical medical journals. Most editors reported training in medical editing topics, saw ethical issues regularly, and were aware of scientific publication organizations, but their knowledge of four common and well-disseminated publication ethics topics appears poor.

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    • "It is important for editors to keep up with literature on publication ethics. A survey of the medical journal editors showed that their knowledge of publication ethics was poor despite a background of training in editing and regular confrontation with ethical issues (Wong and Callaham 2012). 4) Minimizing overlap between editorial and peer reviewer functions – " The primary purpose of the review is to provide the editor with the information to reach a decision " (Nature editorial 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: With the ever expanding array of professional journals, pressures on the peer review process have increased considerably. Unless editors and publishers recognize the need for improving the efficiency of the process, the future of traditional peer review may be at risk. This is a review of the studies that have followed up the suggestions made by Ingelfinger in 1974 for improvement of manuscript peer review. Implementation of changes has been slow, despite the abundance of literature that suggests the necessary improvements. Conscientious self-regulation is expected of editors who, in the current publication scenario, possess enor- mous power without liability. Suitability of peer review to outsourcing should be assessed and if it is absolutely essential to outsource peer review (due to financial constraints on the publisher), care should be taken to ensure that it is implemented systematically and monitored regularly for quality. Finally, it is time for high earning publishers to consider compensation (financial or otherwise) for the efforts of the reviewers.
    Journal of Academic Ethics 10/2014; DOI:10.1007/s10805-014-9220-4
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