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.
Ronksley and colleagues argue that a paper criticising their work on alcohol should be discounted in part because “Stockwell and colleagues write from the perspective of their affiliation with a centre for addictions”.
This is dangerous ground. Stockwell and his co-authors are highly regarded scientists with a distinguished record in alcohol and related areas. It is hard to see why the perspective of scientists working from academic centres in areas such as addictions research (not, indeed, as Ronksley et al write, write dismissively, a "centre for addictions"), drug research, and public health should be treated differently from that of Ronksley and his co-authors, who are based in departments of medicine and community health sciences.
While the original authors may not like criticism of their work which, as they concede, is based on “a body of knowledge that is substantial but less than pristine”, they would do better to focus on the substance of the criticism, rather than imply that affiliation with a university centre for addiction research is somehow cause to doubt the credentials or objectivity of the authors.
No competing interests
16 April 2012
Professor of Health Policy
Public Health Advocacy Institute, Curtin University
10 Selby Street, Shenton Park, Western Australia 6009