Emasculating hypothetical oddities?BMJ 2010; 340 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c726 (Published 04 February 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c726
All rapid responses
Rapid responses are electronic comments to the editor. They enable our users to debate issues raised in articles published on bmj.com. A rapid response is first posted online. If you need the URL (web address) of an individual response, simply click on the response headline and copy the URL from the browser window. A proportion of responses will, after editing, be published online and in the print journal as letters, which are indexed in PubMed. Rapid responses are not indexed in PubMed and they are not journal articles. The BMJ reserves the right to remove responses which are being wilfully misrepresented as published articles or when it is brought to our attention that a response spreads misinformation.
From March 2022, the word limit for rapid responses will be 600 words not including references and author details. We will no longer post responses that exceed this limit.
The word limit for letters selected from posted responses remains 300 words.
Editors use their judgment, whether a journal is peer-reviewed or
not. Everyone who has published in scientific journals ought to know that
acceptance or rejection of a manuscript is decided in practice by the
editorial choice of "peer" reviewers. Any experienced editor can
deliberately choose reviewers who will OK a MS, and others who will turn
thumbs down. Moreover, editors can decide whether or not to accept the
advice given by the reviewers, they are not obliged to accept it. They can
always ask for further reviews, too. One indication of the ever-present
danger of bias and lack of objectivity in peer review is the attempt by
some journals to use "blind" reviewing, taking authors' names off MSs
before review, a usually quite ineffective device given that reviewers are
familiar with the work of other researchers and given the inferences that
can be drawn from the references cited in the MS. Some journals allow
authors to suggest potential reviewers, and some even allow them to give
names of individuals who should NOT be reviewers; and editors, of course
and inevitably, decide whether or not to heed such suggestions. The
greatest deficiency in peer reviewing is the typical practice that
reviewers' names are not revealed to the MS authors. By being anonymous,
reviewers may be less careful than otherwise in how they judge and
especially the terms in which they express their judgments. (Imagine how
dysfunctional the legal system would be if witnesses could testify
At any rate, Bruce Charlton is not the only editor whose decisions
determine acceptance or rejection: that's so with ALL editors, albeit not
always as openly and directly.
Co-author of the Duesberg article in Medical Hypotheses
Competing interests: No competing interests