Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Feature The BMJ Website

Doctors online: “Like flies to honey”

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 26 May 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h2767

Rapid Response:

Rapid Responses are wonderful

The paper raises the interesting issue of whether the main peer-reviewed papers have evolved in step with the publishing medium.

But rapid responses, are definitely a huge change from the situation before the online world came into existence - rapid responses are much more numerous than the earlier printed letters, and are indeed rapid. They allow for an almost immediate analysis of 'intricate and technical issues' which arise from the original paper. And although I usually try to restrain myself from doing this, it is possible to effectively 'debate a point almost in real time with another individual' using rapid responses, as I did recently during discussion of the Montgomery ruling.

I also suspect, that rapid responses can 'escape from the restraints of evidence-based research', and from the possible restrictive effects of peer review [which might tend to 'reinforce uniformity'], and therefore rapid responses allow for some really interesting discussions of issues 'at the edges of medicine': for example where medicine and law interact, or where patients and clinicians might see things significantly differently. 'Primary' papers are usually either a description of experiment and observation, or describe 'one opinion': but rapid responses, are much more of a 'debate'. Personally I find experiment and observation informative - but I sometimes find debate, fascinating as well as informative.

Rapid responses, are wonderful !

Competing interests: No competing interests

30 May 2015
Michael H Stone
Retired Non Clinical
Coventry CV2 4HN