MJA names Talley’s successor

3 minute read

Professor Virginia Barbour will take up the role of editor-in-chief from next year with a plan to push for completely open access.

Open access publishing advocate Professor Virginia Barbour will take the helm of the Medical Journal of Australia from January next year, the AMA announced today. 

Professor Barbour won’t step into the editor-in-chief role until January, when she will replace Professor Nick Talley, who has held the job for seven years.  

Professor Barbour is currently the director of Open Access Australasia and co-lead of the Office for Scholarly Communications at the Queensland University of Technology.  

She started her career at The Lancet and went on to be one of the three founding editors of PLOS Medicine.  

Professor Barbour has previously chaired the Committee on Publication Ethics, the Declaration on Research Assessment and the Cochrane Library Oversight Committee.  

Last year, she was one of the expert advisors who finalised the text of the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science.  

While all MJA research articles are freely available online to registered users of the site, the editorials, perspectives, letters, reviews and reflections are subscriber-only.  

Professor Barbour said that making the journal comprehensively open access would be a priority. 

“The MJA is typical of many society journals, I would say, where it’s clear that they need to move to open access, but it’s challenging, because business models are currently tied up with subscriptions,” she told The Medical Republic.  

Professor Barbour’s appointment comes just weeks after US President Joe Biden announced that all taxpayer-funded research would be made publicly available, free of charge.  

Under the new rules, which won’t come into effect until the end of 2025, federal agencies will be responsible for ensuring that any peer-reviewed publications or data arising from the research they fund are freely and immediately available to the general public.  

Seen as a win for open-access science, the change is expected to have worldwide benefit.  

“The US announcement is a real game changer,” Professor Barbour said.  

“The question now is not really whether [an international move] is going to happen, it’s just how it happens.” 

Open access isn’t the only thing the new editor-in-chief plans to push for. 

“These are very interesting and experimental times in publishing,” she said. 

“We’ve seen the rise of preprints, and we’ve seen lots of journals who are now supporting having preprints for the papers that they eventually publish.  

“That’s something which I think that it would be the right time for the MJA to explore whether that is appropriate for them as well.”  

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