Prague, September 19, 1997
Nearly 200 of the attendants at the 3rd International Congress on Peer Review and Global Communications participated in the inaugural meeting of the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME). The President of WAME at that time, Drummond Rennie, presided. The agenda comprised 3 important features: the preliminary results of the needs assessment survey conducted between March 1995 and December 1996; the criteria for membership in WAME; and the election of an interim executive of WAME.
Cindy Good of Project Hope presented the preliminary results of the needs assessment survey on behalf of Stephen Parente of Project Hope, Drummond Rennie of JAMA, and Suzanne Fletcher of Harvard. The survey was designed to assess the level of understanding, awareness and use of the peer review process, to gather information useful in guiding the structuring and functioning of WAME, and to determine the current computer capabilities of editors. The survey was sent to 727 medical journals, and 269 (37%) responded. The authors concluded from the results that the respondents were highly interested in forming a global organization of editors of peer-reviewed medical journal editors, and that one half of the respondents reported that they had access to the Internet and could participate in a worldwide electronic network. The results of that survey have been submitted for publication.
The attendants then participated in a lively discussion of the proposed criteria for membership in WAME, which were presented by Bruce Squires, chair of the WAME Membership Committee. The criteria, as submitted and approved by the Executive Committee, restricted membership in WAME to the editors and ex-editors of peer-reviewed medical journals (ie, those responsible and accountable for determining the scientific content of the journal), and those who made a serious study of the discipline of scholarly medical publishing. After considerable debate, the participants voted to permit 2 levels of membership: full membership for those who fit the proposed criteria and affiliate or associate membership (non-voting) for those who did not.
Finally, the participants agreed that the Board and Executive (as nominated by the WAME Nominating Committee), should have authority and responsibility for creating various committees to develop policies and by-laws to govern the organization and to develop the necessary Internet capabilities to communicate with members of WAME. The current officers and committee members are listed on the WAME Web site.