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Editorial Governance Plan
June 16, 1999

Editorial Governance of the Journal of the American Medical AssociationA Report

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Dr Rosenberg is Chair of the JAMA Editor Search Committee, editor of Archives of Neurology, and Zale Distinguished Chair in Neurology and professor of neurology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas; and Dr Anderson is executive vice president and CEO of the American Medical Association, Chicago, Ill.

JAMA. 1999;281(23):2239-2240. doi:10.1001/jama.281.23.2239

The Journal of the American Medical Association has enjoyed an illustrious 116-year history as a peer-reviewed medical journal dedicated to the science and art of medicine and the betterment of the public health.

When George D. Lundberg, MD, editor of JAMA, was removed from his position on January 15, 1999, there was concern within the medical and scientific publishing communities that his dismissal was a challenge to JAMA's editorial freedom and integrity.

To reaffirm the American Medical Association's (AMA's) commitment to the integrity of THE JOURNAL, to maintain JAMA's editorial independence, to protect THE JOURNAL's integrity, and to assist in selecting a new editor,1 the AMA assembled a search committee and announced its members on January 27, 1999. The committee is chaired by Roger N. Rosenberg, MD, Zale Distinguished Chair in Neurology and professor of neurology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and editor of the Archives of Neurology.

Other distinguished members of the search committee are: Floyd E. Bloom, MD, editor-in-chief of Science and chair of the Department of Neuropharmacology, Scripps Research Institute; William H. Danforth, MD, chair of the Board of Trustees, Washington University; Bernadine Healy, MD, former head of the National Institutes of Health and dean of the College of Medicine and Public Health, The Ohio State University; Michael M. E. Johns, MD, executive vice president for Health Affairs, Emory University; Joseph B. Martin, MD, PhD, dean of the Harvard Faculty of Medicine; Edmund D. Pellegrino, MD, director of the Center for Clinical Bioethics, Georgetown University Medical Center; Drummond Rennie, MD, JAMA Deputy Editor (West) and adjunct professor of medicine, University of California at San Francisco; and John E. Wennberg, MD, MPH, director of the Center for the Evaluative Clinical Sciences and Peggy Y. Thomson Professor for the Evaluative Clinical Sciences, Dartmouth Medical School.

The selection of the search committee was a collaborative effort involving senior members of the JAMA editorial staff, editors of the various Archives Journals published by the AMA, and AMA senior staff. The committee's charge is 3-fold: (1) To recruit an editor for JAMA. This includes reviewing the detailed job description and the editor's reporting relationships. (2) To review existing practices and develop safeguards that will guarantee JAMA's integrity, editorial independence, and responsibility. (3) To determine how the editor's performance can best be measured. The committee decided its first charge should be the thorough examination of the editorial governance of JAMA. As we stated the day the search committee was announced: "Our committee will be particularly concerned with developing mechanisms that provide complete safeguards to ensure editorial independence for the new JAMA editor."2

During the past 4 months, the committee has met and discussed what safeguards should be proposed to the AMA to ensure editorial independence, while also preserving the AMA's responsibilities as publisher. The committee has solicited input from a number of groups, including leading medical journal personnel and medical journal editors and publishers.

What follows is an agreement among the search committee, the AMA's Board of Trustees, and key AMA senior staff on the governance of JAMA. It is the result of a number of meetings, negotiations, and compromises in order to best serve THE JOURNAL, its mission, AMA members, and all JAMA readers.

On behalf of the AMA, its Board, officers, members, and staff, it is a pleasure to have reached this milestone agreement. Working cooperatively with the search committee, we have found an embodiment of our common goal of editorial independence and journalistic responsibility that can set the standard for medical journals into the next millennium. This is truly a historic day for the AMA and its family of scientific journals.

We believe it is now time to move forward. The next mission for the committee is to begin a search for a new editor. As we had announced at the beginning of this process, we continue to be "committed to a rigorous and comprehensive international search for an outstanding physician-scientist with a strong academic background and considerable experience in the editorial process and medical publishing."

"The new editor will be expected to lead JAMA into the 21st century and to provide the clinical and scientific acumen and vision needed to maintain JAMA's high standard of excellence."2

With this governance report in hand, we must now help find the best person for the job to become JAMA's 15th editor since THE JOURNAL began publishing in 1883.

 Editorial governance for JAMA  JAMA.1999;281:2240.
 Memo to AMA Federation. January 27, 1999.