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Library hosts new online medical journal

May 17, 2007

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By Stuart Colcleugh

The SFU library is hosting a free, online general medical journal launched by former editors of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) who were fired or resigned last year over an editorial-independence controversy.

Open Medicine (www.openmedicine.ca) is a peer-reviewed, independent open-access monthly journal. It does not accept advertising from pharmaceutical or medical-device companies, as do the CMAJ and other major medical journals.

And unlike many journals, which retain copyrights, the authors of Open Medicine articles retain control of their work.

"We're hosting this publication both in the spirit of academic independence and freedom and because it provides access to people throughout the world who can't afford
to use the major pay-per-view journals," says SFU library services dean Lynn Copeland.

Two of Open Medicine's associate editors — former CMAJ editor-in-chief Dr. John Hoey and former senior deputy editor Anne Marie Todkill — reportedly lost their CMAJ jobs over a story involving women's privacy rights and the sale of a contraceptive drug.

Neither they nor the CMAJ can discuss the specifics of their departure due to a mutually binding confidentially agreement.

But last May the Canadian Medical Association's then-president, Dr. Ruth Collins-Nakai, told the Toronto Star the editors "were not fired over the issue of editorial independence" but for "irreconcilable differences."

Following their departure, Hoey and Todkill won the 2006 National Press Club of Canada's World Press Freedom award.

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