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

Victoria S.S. Wong, Michael L. Callaham

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Objective: To characterize medical editors by determining their demographics, training, potential sources of conflict of interest (COI), and familiarity with ethical standards. Study Design and Setting: 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. Results: 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). Conclusion: 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-252
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Authorship
  • Conflict of interest
  • Editorial policies
  • Journalism
  • Medical
  • Peer review
  • Plagiarism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


Dive into the research topics of 'Medical journal editors lacked familiarity with scientific publication issues despite training and regular exposure'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this