On the WIHI program today, I asked the following question of Catherine D. DeAngelis, MD, MPH, Editor-in-Chief of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association:
NEJM and other journals allow public (non-subscriber) access to the full text of articles of general public interest. JAMA has steadfastly refused to do so. Why? As the others have shown, it results in no financial loss. And, it enhances the position of the journal among the public and decision-makers.
Examples are here and here. The second one was a 2010 article by Peter Pronovost, entitled, "Learning Accountability for Patient Outcomes," where only an excerpt was provided to the public. As I stated at the time, "Wouldn't you love to read the whole thing? Maybe, someday this influential journal will understand that it would be still more influential if it permitted free access to articles of public import like this."
Before being presented with this question, in response to another question, Dr. DeAngelis talked about how much JAMA wants to get accurate exposure for its articles:
We spend lots of money getting our articles out to the media. We give it to them early. We write up the ones that we think are important. Every week we put out a video news release. The one bug I have a about the media is when . . . a headline is absolutely wrong, opposite of what the article says.
So, you would think that the best way to get accurate, accountable exposure for articles of general interest would be to permit anyone to read them.
On my question, I am sorry to say she gave a misleading answer. Here are excerpts I was able to pick up:
This is discussed constantly. If it is an article of great public interest, we make it free immediately [for a short period of time]. We make all studies free after six months. I would love to make everything we do free. The problem is that it takes money to run a journal.
Actually, all those articles are not made freely available after six months. This is the message you get if you want to look at that Pronovost article from 2010:
To play back something Dr. DeAngelis said:
We are not a guild. We have an MD, not an MDeity. The patient is always the top priority.
So, let us allow patients to get access to these important articles.