Fire of the Week: Maintaining Editorial Independence

There is little else in scholarly publishing as sacrosanct as the idea of editorial independence. Put simply, this concept guarantees that the editor-in-chief alone, and not the publisher, decides what the journal will publish.1 Editorial independence ensures transparency in decision making and allows the journal freedom to decide to publish what they believe to be most useful to their field, and not what the owners of the journal are directing them to publish. In the case of society-owned journals, it prevents the journal from becoming the de facto mouthpiece of the society. But what happens when that independence is threatened? As journal editors, we understand the divide between ourselves and, for example, our society’s board of directors, but the reverse is not always true. It may fall to us at times to educate others when their requests of the journal overstep the boundary. It may mean stressing to our editor-in-chief that it is important to maintain a good relationship with the board of directors. It may also mean gently explaining to the board that they cannot dictate what the journal publishes. It can be a tricky situation to navigate judiciously. In this installment of Fire of the Week, we will hear about a situation in which editorial independence was threatened, and how the editor worked to preserve the independence of a journal from its society board of directors. The situation has been kept anonymous, which is why no names are shared. Describe the “fire.” Why was the situation unique or […]

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