THE INVISIBLE COLLEGE OF NON-ENGLISH ADDICTION JOURNALS

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In his paper [1] on the history of Addiction, Griffith Edwards raises an interesting question for other editors: how far does this analysis generalize to the life-course of other journals. The success of Addiction over the years can, in my opinion, be summarised as a not always easy balance between its scientific commitment, an endeavour to serve society, its concern with ethical issues, good management and an admirable adaptation to historical times. It is certainly possible that as Editor of Adicciones (the Spanish journal specializing in addictions), after 17 years I have encountered more than a few parallels with the events he describes. Obviously, there are many things to be learned about journal editing, and many that we are still learning, since becoming members of the International Society of Addiction Journal Editors, and the adoption of the Farmington Consensus [2].

I will restrict my comments specifically to the non-English journals, a subject which I know interests Griffith Edwards, and their relationship to his invisible college. For the non-English journals, their ‘natural’ relationship with the invisible college (the scientific community of the country or linguistic area) is not quite so ‘natural’ as many authors prefer, quite logically, to send their best articles to journals with the greatest impact factor. In the case of the addictions, these journals are all in the English language. This produces a significant bias, as the non-English journals are not only missing out on first-rate articles but, in addition, relevant research never reaches the scientific and professional community or the policy-makers of the country concerned. Professionals in countries where English is not used, who publish in these higher impact English journals, have as their preferential interlocutors—and at times their only ones—other leading professionals, to the detriment of those from their own country of origin, who are the ones that sustain their research. It is true, however, that the appearance of new resources, such as Medline, and its availability to all, has reduced this perverse effect by facilitating access to scientific information published in languages other than English.

This two-way scheme, suggested by Edwards, is inadequate in explaining the relationship of the non-English journals with their invisible college. One must refer to the logic of the subordination of some cultures, wherein the English language is turned into the vehicle for science par excellence which, although it offers many advantages on several levels, does complicate the existence of these journals. Is the middling success of non-English journals possible on the fringe of this process marked by the Anglo-Saxon world? It is not only a question of languages but also a whole way of understanding what science is. In another paper by Edwards [3] on the non-English journals dealing with addictions, his advice generally runs along the lines of improving one's connection with the English world (abstracts and articles in English, translated articles, negotiating bilateral agreements with journals in English . . .). However, these good suggestions may not be sufficient, in the face of the competition from large organizations and publishing companies, which make life difficult even for the journals published in English.

Certainly, there is a need for non-English speaking countries to generate more resources to support publication opportunities in their own country and to appeal to the solidarity of the publishers and other organizations in the English speaking world to progress, generating less imbalances for the benefit of all.

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