Board adopts policy on independence of AVMA journals

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A policy recognizing the editorial independence of the AVMA journals received approval during the Aug. 30-31 meeting of the AVMA Executive Board.

The philosophy of editorial independence is that publications are more credible sources of information if the editor-in-chief, rather than the parent organization, controls the content.

The recommendation to adopt an AVMA policy on editorial independence was accompanied by this background statement: "The relationship between the editor-in-chief and the AVMA has been and continues to be based on openness, respect, and trust. Given this and given the editorial freedom granted to the editors-in-chief over the years, adoption of a policy statement regarding editorial independence of the AVMA journals is expected to have little practical impact on the day-to-day workings of the AVMA journals. However, given recent misunderstandings among some readers of the relationship between the AVMA journals, particularly JAVMA News, and the AVMA, adopting a clear policy statement would serve to enhance the reputation of the journals and, by extension, increase their value to the AVMA."

Dr. Kurt J. Matushek, AVMA editor-in-chief and Publications Division director since August 2009, suggested wording for the policy on editorial independence. Dr. John R. Scamahorn, District VI representative, submitted the recommendation to approve the policy.

The new policy reads as follows:

Editorial Independence of the AVMA Journals

The AVMA recognizes and fully accepts the need for editorial independence of the AVMA journals and grants the editor-in-chief full authority over the editorial content of the journals, including the selection of content for publication and the timing of publication of that content. For these purposes, editorial content is understood to include research articles, other types of scientific reports, opinion articles, news, and advertising. Opinions and statements expressed in the AVMA journals are those of the contributors and do not represent the official policy of the AVMA, unless so stated. AVMA management does not interfere in the evaluation, selection, or editing of individual articles published in the AVMA journals, either directly or by creating an environment that strongly influences decisions of the editor-in-chief.

Dr. Theodore J. Cohn, vice chair of the board, said during the board meeting that the policy is another step toward making AVMA processes more transparent to members.

"It just lays out in a firm statement what the Executive Board feels, that we need to have editorial independence for our AVMA journals," Dr. Scamahorn said later. "It elevates the journals, enhances their reputation and their value to those reading."

Dr. Matushek said after the meeting, "I think it's important to emphasize that although the AVMA has not had a written policy on editorial independence to this point, the editors-in-chief have always had the freedom to determine the editorial content of the journals on the basis of validity of the information and its importance to the journal readers, not necessarily the policies or positions of the AVMA. This new policy serves to publicly acknowledge that relationship between the journals and the AVMA."