Intended for healthcare professionals


Twists in the tale of impossible means

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 13 May 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:1343

In which a copy of the original manuscript is found safe in Norway …

  1. Jon Håvard Loge, postdoctoral research fellow (
  1. Department of Behavioural Sciences in Medicine, POB 1111 Blindern, 0317 Oslo, Norway
  2. Academic Department of Psychological Medicine, Guy's, King's and St Thomas's School of Medicine and Institute of Psychiatry, London SE5 8AF
  3. Hairmyres Hospital, East Kilbride G75 8RG
  4. BMJ

    EDITOR—Recently, Bland correctly identified impossible means for fatigue and scores with the general health questionnaire in a paper published by Pawlikowska et al in 1994.1 2 The authors admitted the mistake and reported the correct values, but they could not explain how the values came to be incorrect in their paper.3 Missing proofs, the theft of a computer, and the passage of time might seem like poor excuses and indicate unreliable researchers.

    I can, however, confirm that the values reported by Chalder and Wessely in their authors' reply correspond with the values in the original manuscript. I received a copy in 1993, when the manuscript was being reviewed by the BMJ. On the front page one of the authors has written by hand: “submitted to the BMJ, not for citation.” Since then my copy of the manuscript has been stored on a bookshelf at the University of Oslo. I checked it with some excitement after reading Bland's criticism to find that the values in the authors' reply were the same as those in my copy of the original manuscript (available on request).

    Perhaps the authors were correct when they said …

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