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Correspondence: Dr José F Lapeña Jr, email@example.com
The concept of editorial freedom or independence is examined in the light of the editor-owner relationship. Like individual and national freedom or independence, it is a rhetorical concept whose realisation flows from internal achievement as much as it depends on external validation. This freedom entails roles and responsibilities embodied in specific codes of practice for editors, such as the guidelines espoused by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors and the World Association of Medical Editors. The calling to embody these guidelines makes editing a vocation that demands isolation and distancing, separation and solitude. It involves bracketing one’s biases, prejudgments and preconceptions. With such detachment comes real freedom; one that requires a moral fibre and trustworthiness that uphold truth and right, whether in full view of public scrutiny, or in the aloneness of private secrecy. The stereotypical tension between academic and commercial concerns highlights the editor-owner relationship, and bears directly on editorial independence. In practice, journal owners overstep their prerogatives. The absence of clear contracts defining editorial independence and the lack of established mechanisms governing the editor-owner relationship affect many small-to medium-sized journals in developing countries. Even large journals in developed and democratic nations or totalitarian states and societies are not spared. At the end of the day, editorial freedom exists only insofar as it is tolerated, or until editors cross the line.
Keywords: editorial freedom, editorial independence, editorial policies, editor-owner relationship
Singapore Med J 2009; 50(12): 1120-1122