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Dr Virginia Barbour Chair of Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), and Executive Director, Australasian Open Access Strategy Group Dr Virginia Barbour is the Executive Director of the Australasian Open Access Strategy Group, based in Brisbane, Australia. She made a unique and successful move from clinical medicine into editing. Ginny was born in Virginia – hence the name Virginia – when her father was on secondment with the family from the British Navy.

She studied Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, and then studied medicine at Universit y College London a nd Midd le sex Hospita ls, specialising in haematology. She spent several years doing research at the Institute of Molecular Medicine, Oxford. She then undertook post-doctoral work at St Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Although she enjoyed both clinical work and doing research, she realised that she was not cut out to be a scientist in the long term. Her first medical editing job came about serendipitously and having started it, Ginny felt that she could have the most effect personally as an Editor, especially with the opportunity at that time to make open access to academic publishing a reality. Taking up this first editing post was her best career decision and one that has subsequently opened up many other doors for her. Ginny admits that she has never been very good at looking ahead and planning and has been fortunate that she has been in the right place at the right time. She believes that there have been times over the years when she should have taken a step back and considered the next step. She has learnt to do that now. In 1999, Ginny joined the Lancet as Molecular Medicine Editor and became aware of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). The Lancet was a member of COPE and the Editor-inChief, Richard Horton, was one of COPE’s founding members. Ginny left the Lancet in 2004, to join the Public Library of Science (PLOS) and was invited to join COPE’s Council. Around the same time, Ginny became interested in PLOS and open access when she became aware that the Internet allowed the opportunity to radically rethink how medical and scientific information could be disseminated and built on – and that traditional publishers were slow to recognise this opportunity. She was one of the three editors who started PLOS Medicine and she had her first real exposure to

COPE even before PLOS Medicine had published its first issue. They had received a problematic paper and Ginny was grateful for the opportunity to seek the advice of more experienced Editors on how to handle it. Ginny was PLOS Medicine’s first Chief Editor, and in 2012, she combined that role with Medicine Editorial Director for PLOS – overseeing the three medical journals from PLOS – finally becoming Medicine and Biology Editorial Director of PLOS from 2014-2015. Ginny is incredibly proud of starting PLOS Medicine as a revolutionary new model of disseminating academic information, and one the journals that got open access taken seriously early on. She has held many senior roles within COPE including Council Member from 2005-2010, Secretary from 2010-2012, and Chair from 2012-present. She is currently serving her second term as Chair. She is also Director of the World Association of Medical Editors and has been involved in a number of reporting guidelines. She is on the steering group of the AllTrials initiative and is Adviser to a number of publishing and ethics initiatives. Following her move to Australia, Ginny has a joint appointment as Professor between the Office of Research Ethics and Integrity, and the Library, Division of Technology at Queensland University of Technology. She has an academic title as Professor at Griffith University, Queensland and is also an Honorary Professor at the University of Queensland. * Favourite Film: Fargo. It has a great female lead and other characters that span all of human idiocy and kindness with a fabulous plot * Three objects Ginny cannot live without: Contact lenses, iPhone, Good sharp knife for cooking

Ginny’s advice to junior doctors is “Have an open mind, and pay attention to everyone around you, especially those you disagree with. We have to be prepared to be open-minded, to challenge dogmas and to stand up firmly for what we believe in and we can’t do that if we only listen to and read those who we agree with.”


Medical Woman | Spring 2017

Medical Woman – Magazine Centenary Issue, April 2017  

The magazine for the Medical Women’s Federation (MWF), the largest and most influential body of women doctors in the UK which aims to promot...

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