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It is estimated that more than 100 000 scientific, biological and medical journals are published worldwide, some believing the figure to be closer to 200 000. They range from the well known and generalist, such as Scientific American and Nature, to those dedicated to a discrete specialty or professional group with a limited circulation. General medical journals include The Lancet, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) and the Journal of the American Medical Association; specialist journals include Gut, Archives of Diseases in Childhood and the prestigious, renowned and seminal publication you are currently reading.
To quote Richard Smith, former editor of the BMJ, medical journals are there to inform, reform, disseminate science, educate, provide a forum for a community to debate the issues of the day, entertain and make money.
Several sets of people have a vested interest in the publication of a journal, be it medical, scientific, hobby related or a mainstream populist purveyor of celebrity gossip. These groups include the journal owners, the publishers (not necessarily the same people as the owners), the editorial and production teams, advertisers, …
Competing interests: None declared.