In a bid to democratize access to credible health information, the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) is removing its paywall.
“Up until now, if we published an insightful commentary about national pharmacare, for example, it was publicly available for one week, and then behind a paywall for a year. And that markedly decreased the influence that piece could have and the vigour of the debate it might engender,” explains editor-in-chief Dr. Andreas Laupacis.
“As Canada’s leading medical journal, we want CMAJ to be a place for open dialogue and debate about issues that are important to improving our health care systems in Canada.” - Dr. Andreas Laupacis, CMAJ editor-in-chief
In the past decade, only new stories, research articles, editorials and guidelines published in CMAJ have been available for free. Starting in January, all new CMAJ content will be publicly available, at no cost. Past issues will be available starting March 1, while physician members of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) will continue to receive a monthly print version, as a member benefit.
The decision to remove the paywall comes at a time when there is increased need for easily accessible, evidence-based health information.
“One of the things that makes CMAJ unique, within the media landscape, is that we’re heavily driven by research and evidence,” says Dr. Laupacis. “It’s important that the public be able to access this evidence, because they’re the ones paying for and using the health care system, and they can benefit from having as much knowledge as possible.”
“The pressures facing the health care system are complex, and there is real value in making peer-reviewed health research available to all, especially those holding the policy levers of our health care system.” - Dr. Sandy Buchman, CMA president
As a new editor, Dr. Laupacis says the removal of the paywall will also support his vision of making the one-hundred-year-old journal a go-to space for debate and dialogue and expanding the commentary section to tackle important issues in health care.
“It’s going to make it much easier for me (as editor-in-chief) to approach people with expertise to write commentaries for us because I know they’ll be freely available to everybody, not just in Canada, but around the world.”