Should journals sell reprints? NoBMJ 2011; 343 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d6448 (Published 14 October 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6448
All rapid responses
Reprints can be a substantial source of revenue for some journals.
For example, reprints contributed to 3%, and 41% of the total income (2005
-2006) of British Medical Journal (BMJ) and The Lancet, respectively .
Interestingly, Annals of Internal Medicine and New England Journal of
Medicine (NEJM) did not reveal their data.
The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) has failed to address the
potential conflict of interest that may arise from generating a
substantial earning from reprints by the journals . Editors,
supposedly, would claim that they act independently and have nothing to
hide. Arguably, independence would go only as far as the owners of
journals would allow, as exemplified by the saga of dismissed editors of
NEJM and the Canadian Medical Association Journal .
In order to be see-through, both sides of a glass wall need to be
transparent. It is time that all journals, like the authors, should
routinely declare their potential conflicts of interests, which should
include earnings from reprints. Perhaps BMJ can be a pioneer in this field
and lead the way?
Lack of transparency could affect the credibility of even most
prudent and high profile medical journals. Comments by Marcia Angell would
summarise the scenario- 'It is simply no longer possible to believe much
of the clinical research that is published...I take no pleasure in this
conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as
an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine' .
 Lundh A, Barbateskovic M, Hr?bjartsson A, G?tzsche PC. Conflicts
of interest at medical journals: the influence of industry- supported
randomised trials on journal impact factors and revenue - cohort study.
PLoS Med 2010;7(10):e1000354.
 Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). Best Practice Guidelines
for Journal Editors.
 Marcovitch H. Editors, Publishers, Impact Factors, and Reprint
Income. PLoS Medicine 2010;7(10):e1000355
 Angell M. Drug companies and doctors: A story of corruption (19-
January-2009). The New York Review of Books.
Competing interests: No competing interests