A pioneering course that brings together the main skills of editing medical journals

The editors of most academic journals are part-time, and this two day course was designed to cover the basic skills, attitudes and knowledge they need to fulfil their roles effectively, effectively – and with satisfaction.


The course had four main topics:

  • Editors: understanding their place in the world of publishing, their relationship to their owners, and their role and responsibilities;
  • Readers: using structure, design and subediting techniques to attract and keep them; 
  • Authors: operating effective processes of copy flow and peer review, attracting high calibre authors - and treating them ethically;
  • The public: dealing with pressure from outside sources and meeting responsibilities towards those sources.

One of the early problems was persuading eminent academics that there was anything to learn about being an Editor, and some refused their publishers’ suggestion that they attend. But those who did were almost universally enthusiastic. One wrote: ‘I came here deeply suspicious of being lectured to but found myself being provoked and stimulated’

This course is now being developed and run by PSP Consulting.


It is available as a two day course.


For details click on photo (right)

Wide and comprehensive range of topics. Good general discussion. Valuable sharing of experiences'

‘Huge amount of new knowledge and ideas’

'It reignited the enthusiasm I felt whenI first started the job and gave me more confidence in my own opinion.’

'I hope that one day we might reach a position where every editor gets some training before beginning work'

I was approached to set this course up in 1997 by the then editors of the BMJ and the Lancet. It came in the wake of a well-publicised case involving the publication of a falsified report and a growing realisation that Editors were being recruited without any formal training.


The first two courses were like mini-conferences, with a distinguished faculty of five, some break out work and plenty of presentations. After the third course the shape changed considerably: there was a maximum of 24 participants, with two facilitators, and an emphasis on discussions and practical exercises.


The course was supported by the BMJ and Blackwell and run every year in the UK, and also in Barcelona, Chicago, Sydney, Christchurch and Addis Ababa.


Dr Richard Smith, then editor of the BMJ, wrote: ‘Your course is very important for the editorial world, and I hope that one day we might reach a position where every editor gets some training before beginning his or her work. It’s ridiculous in many ways that we’ve gone on for so long in such an amateur way’.

'A darkly funny adventure'

Two Summers: Nixon and Trump by Greyhound Bus, by Tim Albert, Elbow Publishing

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© Tim Albert 2020