Caveat, Lector (and Editor)

There has been some discussion recently about Merck's recent continuing medical education publishing venture with Elsevier: a technically detailed corporate publication with a peer-reviewed look and the weighty name: Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint MedicineMore on this from the Bioethics Blog.

As distasteful as CME can be, contracted for publications like this have their place, as do industry publications. This "journal" may contain some useful data, although clear disclaimers would be warranted. The unfortunate choice of an academic name and tone sets both Merck and Elsevier up for criticism.

In the meantime, though, isn't it up to medical practitioners to take note of "journals" with no web site and only one edition, read them with a discerning eye and draw their own conclusions? And doesn't the criticism of Merck and Elsevier insult the intelligence of physicians who are able to distinguish between true peer-reviewed and single-sourced pieces?

Discussions also brought up the term "throw away" journals, implying that any publication that isn't paid for is by definition an advertising rag.  Not true, and there are controlled circulation B2B magazines out there that have editorial integrity and standards. Well, maybe not a huge number, but we definitely strive to be one of them. 

We always prefer to develop articles with authors from within the industry, but there are clear cases, especially where new technology is involved, where the industry isn't using it yet, and expertise from consultants and vendors is appropriate. Not to mention the fact that pharma's corporate reviewers and legal departments tend to squelch juicy technical articles,which tend to have a  50/50 chance of making it into print.  "Vendors" of  all types have a voice, but it is up to the editors to present that voice properly, and to the reader to beware of potential biases and take data with a large grain of salt.