Editors course in Sidney
This course was set up at the request of Dr Richard Smith, then editor of the BMJ. As with many of our courses, it changed considerably, particularly over the first few times it was delivered. The first two courses had a faculty of five people (including editors of the BMJ and Lancet) and mainly consisted of lectures with some exercises. By the end it was being run by two people (trainers rather than experts) with a focus on small group discussions and exercises.
Many editors were sceptical at first, saying that they were very used to reviewing papers so they didn't anticipate that being an editor would give them any problems. Considering the number of new editors each year, the market penetration was extraordinarily small. In fact the course was saved by the sponsorship from Blackwell (as they then were) and the BMJ, who latterly made it a condition of employment that all new editors attended the course (Even so some managed to wriggle out of it)
The course was run 12 times in the UK. It was also run in Australia (see picture), New Zealand, Sweden, Spain, USA and (with funds from the BMJ) Ethiopia.
- Understand the different roles of editor, owner and publisher
- adapt sensible strategies for coping with the changes brought by electronic publishing
- Use a range ot techniques to increase the chances of the journal being read and understood
- Set up copy flow and reviewing systems that will meet the needs of journal, authors and reaeders
- Apply a range of techniques to attract - and keep - high calibre authors
- Understand and meet respoonsibilities to a number of different publics
- recognising that the art of editing involves much more than being a reviewer
- defining a 'core curriculum' for the task of being an editor of a medical journal
- concentrating on getting editors to do things, and not just know things
- our 'in-tray exercises' - sets of letters that encouraged vivid groups discussions and learning
- persuading the BMJ to fund a scholar from a developing country
- 'I found myself being provoked and stimulated. Hopefully the journal will benefit from my experience'
- 'This was a most useful course. Ite helped me to evaluate what I have been doing. I learnt an awful lot in less than three days'.
- 'It definitely made me re-evaluate both my role as an editor and where my journal is heading. Even though I've been in the position for some time, it re-ignited the enthusiasm I felt when I first started the job, and gave me more confidence in my own opinion'
1. Deal constructively with owners
- understand the fast changing world of medical journals
- have strategies for dealing constructively with owners and publishers
- get to the heart of what being an editor means
- set up systems that will aid smooth production and meet current reviewing requirement
- have strategies to deal with the current debate on authors
- choose the 'right' balance of contents,
- understand how design can influence readership
- use professional techniques to improve the likelihood of text being read and understood
- attract good quality authors
- deal successfully with pressures from a range of outside sources
- manage time as an editor
- write personal action plans
Richard Smith, former editor of the BMJ:
Course tutors : Tim Albert, Harvey Marcovitch (above), Gavin Yamey, and Garry Walter (top right).
This course is now being developed and run by Pippa Smart
Write a scientific paper and get it published