Rapid responses are electronic letters to the editor. They enable our users to debate issues raised in articles published on thebmj.com. Although a selection of rapid responses will be included online and in print as readers' letters, their first appearance online means that they are published articles. If you need the url (web address) of an individual response, perhaps for citation purposes, simply click on the response headline and copy the url from the browser window. Letters are indexed in PubMed.
The obvious solution for the BMJ in dealing with authors who fail to honor “promises”--whether or not contractual--is to retract the identified published articles on grounds that they are unverifiable and not replicable according to the rules of empirical science.
There is no viable way of pussy-footing around the issues and stakes here. The credibility of evidence-based medicine and the BMJ are both at stake. Sadly, the behavior of the offending authors reflects the prevailing culture of medical journal publishing, unless . . .
This is an obvious Crossing the Rubicon moment for the BMJ. The decision its editor makes will send a clear signal (or not) that one of the world's leading medical journals will go beyond public relations rhetoric by enforcing its enlightened, gutsy transparency policy.
I'm optimistic despite my usual skepticism in such matters.