We recently discovered that the Canadian Medical Association has fired the editor of its flagship journal, the CMAJ, for reasons that are entirely unclear and also dismissed the oversight committee put in place after the previous editor was fired. I am deeply disturbed. What follows is what I posted on WAME in response to comments by Lundberg and Kassirer about the dismissal. For the record, Injury Prevention, has never had any such conflict with its owners, the BMJ Publishing Group. I posted a similar note ‘to the editor’ in response to the editorial written by the board announcing this sad event. (PS I lay claim to coining the new adjective “Trumpist” to describe outrageous behaviour of this kind!)
Lundberg and Kassirer have responded with their customary perceptive and helpful suggestions. Undoubtedly this is about money not a ‘falling reputation’. As a Canadian I strongly favour Lundberg’s first option. The Journal is a source of pride and has been ever since John Hoey’s stewardship. In spite of what the CMA president or its executive may think, it has a sterling international reputation. To be guided by impact factors, (whatever they may be) is simply evidence of the CMA’s insufficient knowledge of the complex world of medical publishing. Hence I wonder why the onus for reform, etc. falls on the Journal rather than on the CMA leadership, especially given the history of its relationship with the Journal. I would be interested to learn whether the membership was consulted or informed about this decision before it was taken. if the membership was not involved it smells greatly of Trumpist behaviour. If the membership was not part of this vital decision perhaps the logical next step is not to focus on the Journal and its stalwart hanging-in editors, but rather on the CMA itself.