The BMJ paper and seven day servicesBMJ 2016; 352 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i1193 (Published 03 March 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i1193
All rapid responses
Dr Dean's first two questions relate to The BMJ's policy about authors sharing embargoed information ahead of publication. The key aim of this policy is to ensure that those who assess findings have full access to a complete study when they do so, rather than having a partial release of selected information. The journal has always applied this policy in a flexible way, considering on a case-by-case basis whether any pre-publicity is problematic. We have no concerns about the pre-publication sharing of data from the study discussed here.
The third question asks whether any prepublication sharing of the data needs to be mentioned in the final manuscript. This is not an approach we have ever taken previously, nor have we seen it used by other journals that apply similar embargoes to published material. We consider that Abi Rimmer's article provides all the necessary information for readers to assess the context of the published study and the journal's handling of it.
Competing interests: I am employed by The BMJ.
The BMJ's guidance relating to publication embargo states:
"All material accepted for publication in any BMJ journal is under embargo until it is published online. This means that until then it shouldn't be distributed to third parties or discussed with the media, with the exception of research distributed to journalists as part of an embargoed press release (either issued by BMJ or in consultation with BMJ).
If the material forms part of a submission to a government body or public enquiry before publication, authors should notify the journal at the point of acceptance and ensure that recipients are aware that an embargo is in force."
I note Tony Delamothe's comments relating to the Freemantle study, including:
“If somebody says, ‘I’ve got this paper and its being considered by The BMJ and we want to mention the headline finding at a conference,’ we would say, ‘That’s absolutely fine but you can’t hand out chapter and verse to people at the conference,’”
Surely the following questions still need to be answered:
1. Did the authors inform the BMJ that their study's key findings were shared with government bodies before publication?
(As the BMJ's guidance makes it very clear that the BMJ should have been informed ("If the material forms part of a submission to a government body or public enquiry before publication, authors should notify the journal at the point of acceptance and ensure that recipients are aware that an embargo is in force.") )
2. Did the authors ensure that the recipients were aware that the embargo was in force or is the BMJ's publication embargo guidance something that authors can ignore?
3. Should the use of the study's key findings pre publication be mentioned in the final manuscript to enable readers to judge the study in its full political context?
Many thanks and I look forward to a response from the BMJ's editorial team
Competing interests: No competing interests