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General medicine
Publication by association: how the COVID-19 pandemic has shown relationships between authors and editorial board members in the field of infectious diseases
  1. Clara Locher1,
  2. David Moher2,
  3. Ioana Alina Cristea3,
  4. Florian Naudet1
  1. 1 CHU Rennes, Inserm, CIC 1414 [(Centre d’Investigation Clinique de 14 Rennes)], Rennes 1 University, Rennes, Bretagne, France
  2. 2 Centre for Journalology, Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Health Research Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3 Brain and Behavioral Sciences, University of Pavia, Pavia, Lombardia, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Clara Locher, CHU Rennes, Inserm, CIC 1414 [(Centre d’Investigation Clinique de 14 Rennes)], Rennes 1 University, Rennes 35065, France; clara.locher{at}


During the COVID-19 pandemic, the rush to scientific and political judgements on the merits of hydroxychloroquine was fuelled by dubious papers which may have been published because the authors were not independent from the practices of the journals in which they appeared. This example leads us to consider a new type of illegitimate publishing entity, ‘self-promotion journals’ which could be deployed to serve the instrumentalisation of productivity-based metrics, with a ripple effect on decisions about promotion, tenure and grant funding, but also on the quality of manuscripts that are disseminated to the medical community and form the foundation of evidence-based medicine.

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  • Contributors All authors contributed to drafting this manuscript, with FN taking a lead role. All authors provided intellectual input to improve the manuscript and have read and approved the final version. CL is the guarantor of the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.