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Advice to a new editor

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 15 March 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:586
  1. Christopher Martyn, associate editor (
  1. BMJ, London WC1H 9JR
    • Dear Hermione,

    Congratulations on your appointment as editor of the Journal of Amazing Medical Advances. I'm sure that you have already gathered an enthusiastic new editorial team and that you're bursting with ideas for improving the journal. The last thing that I want to do is to dampen that enthusiasm but, as someone who has played the publishing game for a while, I felt a word of warning might be useful.

    You'll find, if you haven't done so already, that the first thing potential authors ask you about the journal you edit is: “What's its impact factor?” Indeed, it will usually be the only thing they ask you. If you can reply with a double digit figure, they'll immediately try to interest you in a manuscript they are writing. If you have to admit a low number, your plans to liven up the book reviews and to redesign the journal's website won't be enough to compensate. Potential authors will make an excuse and walk away. If you think I exaggerate how much notice authors take of impact factors, take …

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