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It may surprise many people, and perhaps the readers of Practical Neurology, that neither I nor the Editorial Board have any stake in the ownership of the journal. It is owned by the publishers, as is standard practice in the case of non-Society owned journals. Although the journal was my idea, it was Blackwell Publishing who—after several years of thought with prodding from me—eventually took the risk of setting it up, supporting it, and marketing it, even though the magazine’s appearance (but not content) was rather foreign to them. And I would like to sincerely thank Blackwell for all that they have done over the last four years, particularly Stuart Taylor, their neurology publisher, who looked after us throughout.
I had known for some time that Blackwell were having difficulty making the journal work financially and that we faced closure if things didn’t improve (particularly the level of subscriptions). Last summer they decided to try to find a buyer for the journal in preference to closing something which they felt should have a future—but in other hands. When they did manage to find a buyer, the first I knew of it was a text message and then phone call while sailing off the west coast of Scotland last July. My first reaction was “Sold to whom?”, with various (possibly unwelcome) publishers flashing through my mind. “To the BMJ”, I was told. Extraordinary! Fortunately I was far enough out at sea not to hit a rock, as the boat was for a moment not entirely under my control.
Since then we have been hard at work with the BMJ Publishing Group sorting out the details and, as you will see, not a lot has visibly changed. Practical Neurology is now standard BMJ Journals size, so very slightly larger, and it will be the bimonthly companion to the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. It will replace Neurology in Practice, but we will soon take up where it left off with a series of articles over the next four years covering the curriculum for neurology training in the UK (which of course is very similar to other countries).
The editorial policy will remain the same (see box) and independent of JNNP whose editor, Martin Rossor, happens to have been on our editorial board for some years. Your editor remains the same too (I was part of what the BMJPG bought, it seems). Of course with a new owner and new publisher there may be some changes, but these will be more to do with things like the ethics of publishing (such as competing interest statements) for which the BMJPG is at the forefront of medical journals internationally. Their marketing clout and commitment to web based publishing, along with free access to all articles more than 12 months old, is also enormously welcome. Practical Neurology will go wherever the far longer established JNNP goes, and together we will provide not just excellent primary science articles in JNNP, but also the review and other features which are very much the business of Practical Neurology. Our aims are still to inform and to entertain (more jeans than genes, perhaps) reliably, topically, and without bias. The essential point of Practical Neurology is that it is practical in the sense of being useful for everyone who sees neurological patients and who wants to keep up to date, and safe, in managing them. Indeed, an early rejected title to express this concept was the Journal of Jobbing Neurology (J Job Neurol!). In other words this is a journal for jobbing neurologists—which most of us are for at least part of our time—who plough through the tension headaches and funny turns week in and week out.
We have been hard at work with the BMJ Publishing Group sorting out the details and, as you will see, not a lot has visibly changed. Practical Neurology is now standard BMJ Journals size, so very slightly larger, and it will be the bimonthly companion to the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry
So, sold by Blackwell and bought by the BMJ Publishing Group. Like most academics I have no idea how these things are done, or how we were valued, but here we are in the BMJ Journals stable and raring to carry on—better than ever before.
EDITORIAL POLICY OF PRACTICAL NEUROLOGY
We are serious in our intent to inform and educate and so enhance neurological practice worldwide.
We believe that the common and the treatable are the most important issues in neurology.
We are evidence based.
We are systematic in our approach to the evidence.
We are balanced, professional, and independent from any sponsoring organisations.
We believe that neurology is very much a part of medicine, both in hospital and in the community—it is not elitist or separate.
We take a pragmatic and practical approach which is not technology driven, as expressed by the title of the journal.
We are allowed to have some fun.
We are comfortable with uncertainty and saying “We don’t know” and its immediate consequence “We had better find out”.
Our overarching aim is to improve the care of patients with neurological conditions worldwide by doing our best within the context of the local healthcare systems in which we work.