Magazine article Online

The Australasian Journals Issue

Magazine article Online

The Australasian Journals Issue

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

IN the last issue of ONLINE (July/August 2009), we published a brief news item ("Elsevier Fakes Medical Journals") about Elsevier's publishing several journals that mimicked scholarly medical journals but were underwritten by drug companies. Here's what we said:

   Elsevier has admitted publishing, as part of its Excerpta
   Medica imprint, six medical journals made
   to look as if they were independent, scholarly,
   peer-reviewed publications, when actually they
   were sponsored by drug companies. The first to
   come to light was the Australasian Journal of Bone
   and Joint Medicine, published from 2000 to 2005,
   sponsored by Merck Sharp & Dohme Australia. The
   other titles were the Australasian Journal of General
   Practice, Australasian Journal of Neurology,
   Australasian Journal of Cardiology, Australasian
   Journal of Clinical Pharmacy, and Australasian
   Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine. Michael
   Hansen, CEO of Elsevier's Health Science Division,
   called the practice "unacceptable" and said the
   company was "conducting an internal review." Articles
   in the journals were reprinted or summarized
   from other peer-reviewed Elsevier journals.
   However, the selection of articles biased the journals'
   coverage toward the sponsoring companies
   and no disclosure of sponsorship appeared in the
   journals (www.elsevier.com).

More information has now surfaced. It wasn't six journals; it was nine. The additional titles are Australasian Journal of Hospital Medicine, Australasian Journal of Clinical Practice, and Australasian Journal of Musculosketal Medicine. In a press release dated June 4, 2009 (http://tinyurl.com/nxl2fp), Elsevier said it also found an additional 13 journal titles beginning with Australasian Journal of that had been registered to obtain an ISSN but were never published. The release also stated, "Single issues were typically distributed to between 2,000 and 10,000 general practitioners (GP) in Australia, and the company is aware of one issue that went to 20,000 (the estimated total number of GPs in Australia)."

LIBRARY HOLDINGS

Of the nine published titles, only six found their way into library collections. According to OCLC's WorldCat (www .worldcat.org), here is the tally, in alphabetical order by title:

* Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine. One library holds this title: State Library of New South Wales

* Australasian Journal of Cardiology. Three libraries hold this title: Cairns Base Hospital Library (Queensland), National Library of Australia, Modbury Public Library (South Australia)

* Australasian Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine. One library holds this title: National Library of Australia

* Australasian Journal of General Practice. Six libraries hold this title: Cairns Base Hospital Library (Queensland), Lady Davidson Private Hospital (New South Wales), National Library of Australia, University of Queenland Library Herston Medical, Modbury Public Hospital (South Australia), and Queen Elizabeth Hospital & Health Library (South Australia)

* Australasian Journal of Hospital Medicine. One library holds this title: National Library of Australia

* Australasian Journal of Musculosketal Medicine. One library holds this title: State Library of New South Wales

Two issues of Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine are available in their entirety on The Scientist's website as PDFs (http://images.the-scientist.com/pdfs/ blogs/MSD0503540001.pdf and http://images.the-scien tist.com/pdfs/blogs/MSD0503540027.pdf). It was Bob Grant at The Scientist who broke the story and has been following up on it.

The issues contain a mixture of short "news" items, reprinted articles, unsigned reviews, case reports, and conference highlights. However, they are not unbiased; they are uniformly positive toward Merck's products with no dissenting views, as apparently are the other Elsevier Australasian journals for their sponsors (which Elsevier has not divulged). …

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