The New England Journal of Medicine, open access, Plan S, and undeclared conflicts of interest   | Richard Smith’s non-medical blogs

The New England Journal of Medicine disapproves of open access publishing and Plan S.  There’s nothing surprising in that. (The opposite would have been surprising.) What is surprising is that the journal does not declare its substantial conflicts of interest, when the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, of which it is a founding and prominent member, has made clear for 30 years that all conflicts of interest should be declared.

The New England Journal of Medicine is immensely profitable (although we don’t know exactly how profitable), and those profits—and the compensation and livelihood of its employees—are potentially disrupted by open access and particularly Plan S, the European plan to extend open access publishing….” » New England Journal of Medicine – and you thought Nature was expensive?

The New England journal of Medicine has come out strongly against Open Access. Apparently, this journal does not seem to value access to medical information very highly. This lack of valuation could be due to several reasons. For one, the NEJM is leading the medical publishing industry in retractions….

Finally and perhaps equally likely (the reasons are, of course, not mutually exclusive) it could simply be about money….

Salary sum: 4,088,010….

This would amount to an article processing charge (APC) for NEJM of around US$314,000.

Or, phrased differently, the current business model of NEJM entails the tax-payer paying more than US$300k for each research article in NEJM, which, at the same time:


  • pays their management staff the 3-7 fold income of one of their professor-authors
  • for each research-type article, cross-subsidizes about four other news-type or opinion articles, some of which insult scientists
  • pays for the rejection costs of 95% of all submitted articles
  • overpays the actual publishing costs by about 1,200-fold …”


Data and Open Access Parasites: NEJM is at it again

In 2016, the New England Journal of Medicine published an editorial against data sharing in research, calling those who re-analyze published data, “parasites”. Yesterday, the journal published another editorial in a similar vein, but this time against open access. I don’t have time to rebut each pernicious editorial attacking open access, but this one is high profile and is currently gleefully being shared by opponents of open access (for example, here is a VP from Elsevier promoting it)….”