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Monday, January 05, 2009

The Australian Medical Journal Slips Into the Past and Irrelevance.

Today we have this announcement from the eMJA.

Access to eMJA: 2009

Martin B Van Der Weyden

MJA 2009; 190 (1): 5

The Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) is published by the Australasian Medical Publishing Company (AMPCo), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Australian Medical Association (AMA). The Journal is available on subscription and is included as part of the membership package of the AMA. Since 2001, AMPCo has published an Internet version of the MJA (eMJA) to which readers have enjoyed free open access since its inception.

The eMJA now contains 6350 pages of valuable information, which, while formidable, unfortunately comes with increasing production and maintenance costs. Because of these essential costs, the Board of AMPCo has decided that, commencing with the first MJA issue in 2009, access to certain content in the eMJA will require a subscription. In this move, the MJA will follow the steps taken by other prestigious medical journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the Annals of Internal Medicine (the journal of the American College of Physicians), the BMJ and The Lancet.

Much information, including all previously published articles, current editions of In This Issue, plus guidelines, position statements and supplements, will remain on open access. Research articles will be freely accessible online for 2 weeks following publication, after which a subscription will be required. Twelve months after publication, all articles will revert to open access. This policy will be continually reviewed. Naturally, open access will be provided for any articles we consider to be of urgent public health importance.

Importantly, all current AMA members will continue to enjoy free access to all content of the eMJA. Information about how to access the eMJA is available at


The Medical Journal of Australia

Martin B Van Der Weyden, Editor.

----- End Announcement

A few points.

First if the MJA thinks it is of similar prestige to the Annals, JAMA, the BMJ or Lancet it is smoking a very strong brew of something which I suspect is not legal.

Second we now find Australia lacks an open professional platform for discussion of Health Policy – with the possible exception of the site run by John Menadue’s Centre for Policy Development (CPD).

This is the URL for this Centre.


The ACHSE’s Journal has been member only for ages.

Third closing a professional health publications is a retrograde step in an era when we are working to improve information flows in health.

Last we will now find the Journal will become a journal for members, by members and its quality and relevance will inevitably decline I believe.

Given how rich and well funded the AMA is – a bit sad really.

I hope there will be an open professional journal emerge to fill the gap for Australia. In the mean time Health Affairs in the US - sadly by subscription - will be the most useful health policy journal.

It is ironic that in the first locked 'non-open' copy there is an article on the value of Telemedicine which looks quite interesting and would warrant wider dissemination.

See here:



1 comment:

Steve Hards said...

Hi David,

Thanks for drawing attention to this matter and the telehealth article, which I would have liked to reference for my Telecare Aware readers. In this situation where the information will be much less relevant when it becomes archived and therefore more available, the authors should consider making the essence of it available in some other form - by means of a press release, for example.

Steve Hards
Telecare Aware - news for the telecare/telehealth community