Intended for healthcare professionals


Why I'm a reluctant rapid responder

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 12 February 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:413

Rapid responses have their uses

I share many of the concerns on the nuisance value of rapid responses
on raised by Mina Fazel [1]. The temptation to post a response at
the click of a button is, I suspect, irresistible for many readers,
including myself on this as well as other occasions in the past. However,
fears that rapid responses that are “rude, poorly constructed or of little
value” may have a negative impact on well-designed, well-written, peer-
reviewed research papers give little credit to the intelligence of the
readers. As Richard Smith, writing in Nature [2], admits, rapid responses
are “clearly unfettered debate full of crazy ideas, false logic, and
unreadable, mis-spelt prose as well as some literary and scientific gems.”
However, the BMJ’s initiative in allowing open, unmoderated communication
on its website alongside published articles does a greater service to
science and the scientific community and is one to be emulated and
encouraged by all modern journals. Please keep it going, not least for the
many moments of pleasant distraction from more pressing matters that
browsing through rapid responses has afforded me.


1. Fazel M. Why I'm a reluctant rapid responder. BMJ

2. Smith R. Milton and Galileo would back BMJ on free speech. Nature

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

13 February 2004
Akheel A Syed
Specialist Registrar & Clinical Research Associate
University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4HH