Canadian Journal Open Medicine Closes

Helen Branswell | The Canadian Press | November 4, 2014

Open Medicine, an open-access journal started after a crisis at the Canadian Medical Association Journal, has closed.  The editors say that after seven years, they are ceasing their struggle to keep the journal afloat.  They say the challenges of running a medical journal with a volunteer board of editors and very limited funding have been daunting.

Open Medicine was created by a number of editors who left the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2006 over a fight with the journal’s owners, the Canadian Medical Association.  The CMAJ’s then editor, Dr. John Hoey, was fired by the journal’s publisher, CMA Media Inc., in what editors insisted was a fight over editorial independence.  Shortly before the firing, the publisher had quashed a portion of a news story the journal was to publish on how some pharmacists were limiting access to Plan B, the so-called morning after pill.

Hoey agreed to the demand to cut the section of story to which the publisher had objected. But then he wrote an editorial accusing the journal’s owners of editorial interference.  Editors of some of the world’s most esteemed medical journals — the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association — came to Hoey’s defence. But CMA Media refused to rehire him and many of the editors and editorial board members who had worked with Hoey left the CMAJ as a result...

Open Health News' Take: 

This is both a sad story as well as a warning to the Open Access community. Just as open source projects need sustainable business models, so do open access publications and websites as well as any publication that supports open principles. The community should have rallied to support this Journal and demanded that the Canadian government support it instead of funding journals controlled by publishing multinationals. A good article to read on the consequences of not having a sustainable business model is Heartbleed, an Apache License Business Model Failure? Roger A. Maduro, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Open Health News.