Saturday, July 15, 2006

CMA accepts recommendations for editorial independence at its journal

An advisory panel to the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) has recommended that the editor of the Canadian Medical Association Journal should be made wholly independent of the association board, and that the journal revert to association ownership instead of being required to serve a CMA Holdings, a for-profit division. The governance review panel, headed by Dick Pound, issued a long and detailed report, and the Association has accepted all 25 recommendations and will implement them, said CMA President Ruth Collins-Nakai. Among other things, the report recommended the creation of an independent oversight committee to which the editor would be responsible.

This is the outcome of a fierce and bitter struggle at the CMA that resulted in the firing of the previous editor, Dr. John Hoey and his assistant Anne Marie Todkill. For earlier postings and background on the story, go here and here and here.

In a story in the Globe and Mail Saturday, Anne Marie Todkill was cautious in commenting on the situation. "If you have an editor who is timid and who shies away from controversy, they might never be challenged, but that doesn't necessarily mean you have a truly independent journal," she said. "[But the report] still assumes there can be disputes that can arise over content, and if an editor really is immune or independent, where does that potential for dispute come from, unless it's some untoward pressure exerted for political reasons by the owners of the journal?"

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