Friday, 17 February 2012

Press release from Taylor & Francis on the New AJOB Management

Relating to my two posts yesterday on the controversy surrounding this (here and here): Today, via Twitter and Facebook, a press release from the publisher of the American Journal of Bioethics, scientific publishing giant Taylor & Francis, on the journal's new managerial arrangements has been distributed. Anyone can get it from here.

In short, T & F simply announces the new arrangement: Summer Johnson McGee and David Magnus as the new editor in chief team and states that Glenn McGee is "retiring", while advising the transfer to the new arrangements over a 2 months period (which is perfectly in order). Unsurprisingly, there is no comment whatsoever of the criticism that the new arrangement has attracted. There is, however, an attempt at an explanation of why Summer Johnson McGee is to be EiC in spite of her sharing the conflict of interest that explains Glenn McGee's resignation (due to their marriage): David Magnus demanded this arrangement for accepting himself stepping in as EiC. This explanation was commented on by John Lantos in yesterday's post. In short: if this is indeed the reason for the new arrangements it is, in extension, a worrying sign of poor judgement and undue focus on practicalities over integrity of both Magnus and Taylor & Francis.

Now, I can see the reason for wanting Summer Johnson McGee to go on with AJOB: she has been working with the journal (and it's sibling website and blog) in an executive capacity for a long time and probably know all the ropes better than most others. However, such practical reasons weigh lightly when balanced against the credibility, integrity and reputation of AJOB and it's spin-off journals. Not to belittle the competence and experience of either Glenn McGee or Summer Johnson McGee or David Magnus (should his condition for accepting to be EiC be as firm as it sounds), but these are things that can be passed on to other people where no embarrassing conflict of interest ties staining the reputation of AJOB will exist.

So I land once again in the conlusion I announced yesterday: AJOB is a fantastic achievement. But in light of the carreer choice made by Glenn McGee, to remain fantatstic it needs to completely severe all ties (except, of course, the recognition as founder and former management) - direct as well as indirect - to him – which, as things stand, includes also Summer Johnson McGee. As indicated by John Lantos, it is both surprising and rather disturbing that this is not obvious to David Magnus and the representatives of Taylor & Francis.