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J R Soc Med. 2007 January; 100(1): 9.
PMCID: PMC1761659


Open peer review: a route to democracy

When I contacted your Journal, I discovered that you practice the ‘open peer review system’ and felt happy on reading it. The reason is very simple: it represents a form of ‘democratic practice’ in medicine. Anybody submitting an article can discuss with the peer-reviewer any differences of opinion, without causing any bitter after-sentiments. This will result in convincing views as to what is more appropriate. To illustrate, I wish to narrate a memory about my work in British hospitals. When I worked at St Mary's Hospital, Manchester, I dared to ask my boss, Dr Robert Newton, about his surgical techniques. To my surprise, he was kind, understanding and encouraging! He asked me where I had worked before coming to the British Isles: ‘With Professor Hermann Knaus in Vienna, where we were taught the hard habit of never asking the Chef any question, but only to reply when he asked. In his department, we had to walk in a military-like line, after the Chef.’ The late Bob Newton smiled and assured me that I could safely ask him any question I wanted, and argue as much as I liked.

The open peer review that you practice is a wonderful application of democracy. Why don't other peer-reviewed journals follow this method? Apparently, it is because open peer review can be time-consuming and might cause some headaches...

In life, one should attempt to go by the narrow gate. I do hope all other medical journals would follow suit and adopt this system. Thus will democracy and freedom prevail all over the world.


Competing interests None declared.

Articles from Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine are provided here courtesy of Royal Society of Medicine Press