The course had four main topics:
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’
'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' - Richard Smith, former editor BMJ
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’.