The future of medical publishing is uncertain. In Dublin this year I was delighted to take part in a stage debate with some amazing luminaries from around the world on where we are now and where we might be going in the future.
The debate was led by Simon Finfer from the George Institute who introduces me at 4:50 and states that he could not get onto St.Emlyn’s which was a bit surprising. I suspect he was looking at our Moodle site rather than the podcast/blog (but there is a message in there somewhere 😉 ).
Anyway, the debate is now online at the Intensive Care Network 1 and if you have any interest in reading, publishing, editorial work or the promotion and dissemination of sciene then you should watch the video or download the podcast. The debate ran for 90 mins but in all honesty we could have gone on for longer, and will in Berlin 2.
My thoughts on reflection of this debate were that we really did not get to much of an agreement. In some respects myself, Richard Smith and Rob MacSweeney held similar perspectives that the world is changing and that post publication review and a more social view of quality is in the ascendency. The traditional model of editors and scientists telling us what to read, what’s good, where we should read it and how it should be translated is being subverted by a more social age 3 facilitated through the internet and related technologies.
It was also clear to me that there is a symbiotic, or rather mutualistic relationship between researchers, editors and publishers who feed off each other for the promotion of reputation, research monies and financial reward (personal through salaries and organisationally through the publishing process). Is this bad? Well in my opinion yes as the missing component may be the clinician. Journals clearly rely on content from authors, who in turn rely on publication success to gain funding for their next project. All the time this is happening we can be sure that someone, somewhere is making a lot of money, and we are paying for it. (Ed – maybe worth mentioning SciHub 4 again).
I would also echo Rob MacSweeney’s ideas on the ethics of pay for view publishing that prevents the widespread dissemination of results. When patients agree to participate in clinical trials, especially randomised trials they are selflessly agreeing to help us learn and improve the practice of medicine. I wonder if they know that the results of their sacrifice are often restricted behind paywalls that make profits that they neither knew about nor benefit from. Perhaps that point should be made clear on the consent form of any trial that does not assure open access to the results.
What we are yet to see established is a sustainable and financially viable alternative although the work of #FOAMed, open access publishing and post publication review is making some progress. Jeff Drazen was rather brave in coming to the debate as editor of the New England Journal of Medicine and in truth he has done some good work in making some of the content open access. However, Richard Smith had the measure of him in this debate arguing that it’s not up to an elite band of editors to decide what’s good and what isn’t. You should also read Richard’s reflections on SMACC, he certainly captures the spirit and the reasons why you should join us in Berlin next year.
I must make a special mention of Rob MacSweeney for his involvement in this debate and for al lthe work he does. He helped make this session happen (and supplied the 21 year old Bushmills we were drinking). He works amazingly hard and publishes through critical care reviews which you really should subscribe to if you have not done so already.
Lastly, don’t forget that there are still SMACC tickets on sale for Berlin next year2. The next release is on and if you come you will be able to witness round 2 of this debate. In Berlin we will once again tale on the world of medical publishing and look to the future and the social age 3.
Rinaldo Bellomo from Melbourne is an amazingly successful researcher from Monash University in Melbourne.
Richard Smith is ex-editor of the BMJ and is on a mission to make journals extinct (gamekeeper turned poacher/terminator)
Flavia Machado is in my top ten of inspiring critical care physicians in the world. An intensivist from Brazil with a great publication record.
Simon Finfer from the Georg Institute in Melbourne will be keeping us in check
I wonder if I can persuade them to invite Rob back for this debate in Berlin?
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