The editor of Conservation Biology has been forced out over the issue of advocacy in the premier journal. Erica Fleishman of the University of California, Davis, was told late last month by the Society for Conservation Biology's (SCB's) governing board that it felt that she had been insisting on removing advocacy statements from research papers, and that it had been decided not to renew her contract. Several prominent members of the journal's editorial board have resigned in protest, and the SCB president has created a new committee in a bid to ease tensions.
Conservation Biology is the most highly cited publication in conservation biology with an impact factor of 4.9. Fleishman had been editor in chief of the journal for about 2.5 years. She received an annual $20,000 honorarium for 25 to 30 hours a week of work, including more hands-on editing than is typical at other journals, intended to make papers more accessible to a range of fields. "It's been a huge part of my life," she says.
Fleishman estimates that about 10% of papers submitted to the journal contain statements of advocacy, typically a few sentences in the discussion section. Although she suggested to authors that they consider not including such comments, she says she only insisted that they be identified as opinion. A handful of authors, including some who serve SCB's board of governors, objected, she says. Ultimately, any changes are the author's decision, Fleishman says. "We have never said, 'We will not publish your paper if you don't change this.' "