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Let the reader beware.

From time to time I like to restate the editorial mission of Medical Laboratory Observer and review editorial policy for readers.

In short, our mission is to improve the business management and leadership skills of laboratory professionals; promote excellence in financial, technological, and clinical aspects of laboratory management; promote efficient, productive, and ethical operations in the laboratory; respond to the professional development needs of laboratory professionals; and promote high-quality patient care.

We pursue that mission in a number of ways, which includes an annual editorial board meeting, attendance of the editorial staff at major professional meetings and conferences, and continuous research and tracking of industry trends and developments.

Laboratory professionals are acutely aware of the function and importance of quality control, MLO also has its own quality control program in place in the form of an editorial policy. That policy mandates that all feature articles published in MLO are peer reviewed by laboratory experts to ensure accuracy and appropriateness. Peer review means a lot of different things to a lot of different journal editors. At MLO, it means articles are sent out to be reviewed by 4 peers. Reviewers get a detailed, 2-page, 1,000-word set of instructions that asks them to assess the article's organization, accuracy, objectivity, and timeliness. Reviewers are asked to rate articles in 5 qualitative areas, to assess appropriateness of detail, and to rate the article's usefulness and importance to laboratorians. Articles that get low scores don't get published. Articles that do get accepted go through a rigorous revision process prior to publication based on the comments of the peer reviewers as well as feedback from MLO's editor ial staff.

Our editorial policy also mandates that we take pains to ensure that advertisers are not allowed to influence the content of articles published in MLO. We don't even want to give the appearance of any potential conflict of interest by allowing advertisers to place ads next to editorial that mentions their product, generically, or by name. Can other publications you're reading make that promise? In this age of information overload, can you afford to waste time reading material of questionable objectivity and accuracy? Just like the business of laboratory medicine, the magazine business is tough, too. Publishers are constantly tempted to cut corners on editorial and production costs and make compromises in integrity for short-term gains in increased advertising revenue.

MLO's mission and editorial policy are printed in every issue on page 5, along with our masthead. We recommit ourselves to readers every time we print them. My publisher isn't always thrilled with the stories we publish in MLO. Occasionally we'll shed a less-than-positive light on a favorite advertiser, but our publisher maintains a laissez-faire relationship with the editorial department because he knows it's in the best interests of the magazine's long-term well-being to maintain our readers' trust.

Do yourself a favor. If the publications you're reading can't make a conspicuous commitment to objectivity, accuracy, and high-quality editorial, you probably don't need to read them.

Darlene Berger

Editor, MLO
COPYRIGHT 2000 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2000 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Date:Apr 1, 2000
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