Intended for healthcare professionals


Six months of exclusive breast feeding: how good is the evidence?

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 13 January 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:c5955

What the associate editor of the BMJ thinks of rapid responses

The article "Lactation wars" (BMJ 2011; 342:d835) by Christopher
Martyn (associate editor of the BMJ) includes the following:

"Mind you, some of the rapid responses on weren't much
better. I won't give examples because they're only a click away, and you
can form your own view. The charitable explanation is that these
correspondents didn't really mean what they said, which is always a danger
when the heat of the moment coincides with the availability of instant
communication. I'd like to see "rapid responses" axed and replaced with
"considered responses." This new section wouldn't allow comments for at
least a week after the article was published, and there would be a cooling
-off period between submission and publication. Anyone sending something
in would have to confirm, 48 hours after they first sent it, that they
really did want it posted."

As one of those rapid response correspondents on, I would
like to assure Christopher Martyn that I really did mean what I said, and
that today, almost four weeks after I submitted that initial response, I
do still want it posted.

I am surprised that an associate editor of the BMJ would appear in
print to express such contempt for rapid responders (who are by definition
among the journal's readership). Could it be that some of those responses
- particularly those that questioned the BMJ's decision to publish this
article in the first place - touched an editorial nerve?

Or perhaps Christopher Martyn didn't really mean what he said and
should have allowed himself a cooling-off period?

Competing interests: No competing interests

11 February 2011
Alison E Powell
Former midwife