Memorandum from the British Journal of
Surgery Society Ltd
The British Journal of Surgery was established
in 1913 following an agreement by Lord Moynihan, Mr Hey Groves,
a Bristol surgeon, and a Bristol publisher, John Wright. It was
published under this agreement until the mid 1970s, when the newly
established British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. bought out
John Wright and changed publisher. Surgeons both manage the affairs
of the Journal and edit the Journal, and the publisher publishes
and markets the Journal. This has proved a successful formula
enabling the Journal to thrive, such that it is now the second
most important general surgical journal in the world, and is cooperating
with its European colleagues to provide a European journal to
compete with the leading journal, the American Annals of Surgery.
It is our belief that the present environment
empowers the smaller specialty journals to expand and contract
as opportunities arise.
We wish to make the following points:
The financial implications of an
open-access model would compromise learned societies who publish
their own journals.
The revenue streams from science
technology and medical publishing are important for investment
in innovative technology-dependent publishing methods.
Surgical departments are underfunded
compared with those departments undertaking molecular biological
research. The cost to the individual author to publish his or
her work would either be a departmental cost or fall on the individual
author. Some of the most innovative surgical advances are derived
from an individual surgeon outwith an academic department: that
individual is unlikely to pay £1,500-2,500 to have his/her
The surgical community has an "ownership"
of its journal. The editors receive an honorarium, those running
the journal do it under Charity guidelines, and the referees are
unpaid. The peer review process could collapse but for this ownership.
Once money buys a publication the
freedom of scientific publication will be at risk.
The British Journal of Surgery Society
Ltd is aware of the problems related to access and the difficulties
librarians have regarding Enhanced Access Licences. These problems
can be resolved by negotiation. The problem will only be made
worse if governmental bodies make journal access free throughout
the NHS Direct website. We see this as a particular threat to
our subscription base.
Competition is intense in the SMTP
industry. Two years ago the British Journal of Surgery changed
publishers and no less than six publishers bid for the contract.
The Society was able to negotiate what has proven a very advantageous
publishing agreement, maintaining a low cost journal.
Academic publishing is open to scientific
fraud and malpractice, of which dual publication is noteworthy.
An interested, involved and responsible editorial and referee
base will be aware of these problems and expose such malpractice.
Our Journal has combined with its American colleagues to issue
a joint statement on a related topic [Polk HC, Bowden TA, Rikkers
LF, Balch CM, Organ CH, Murie JA, et al. Scientific data
from clinical trials: investigators' responsibilities and rights.
Archives of Surgery 2002; 137: 639-640].
In summary, it is our contention that the involvement
of dedicated professionals with personal responsibility for their
product, will provide better access to the focused requirements
of a surgical community than a monolithic open access policy utilising