Objective To investigate whether substantive criticism in electronic letters to the editor, defined as a problem that could invalidate the research or reduce its reliability, is adequately addressed by the authors.
Design Cohort study.
Setting BMJ between October 2005 and September 2007.
Inclusion criteria Research papers generating substantive criticism in the rapid responses section on bmj.com.
Main outcome measures Severity of criticism (minor, moderate, or major) as judged by two editors and extent to which the criticism was addressed by authors (fully, partly, or not) as judged by two editors and the critics.
Results A substantive criticism was raised against 105 of 350 (30%, 95% confidence interval 25% to 35%) included research papers, and of these the authors had responded to 47 (45%, 35% to 54%). The severity of the criticism was the same in those papers as in the 58 without author replies (mean score 2.2 in both groups, P=0.72). For the 47 criticisms with replies, there was no relation between the severity of the criticism and the adequacy of the reply, neither as judged by the editors (P=0.88 and P=0.95, respectively) nor by the critics (P=0.83; response rate 85%). However, the critics were much more critical of the replies than the editors (average score 2.3 v 1.4, P<0.001).
Conclusions Authors are reluctant to respond to criticisms of their work, although they are not less likely to respond when criticisms are severe. Editors should ensure that authors take relevant criticism seriously and respond adequately to it.
Hert et al. (J Comp Physiol A, 2011) challenged one part of the study by Begall et al. (PNAS 105:13451–13455, 2008) claiming that they could not replicate the finding of preferential magnetic alignment of cattle recorded in aerial images of Google Earth. However, Hert and co-authors used a different statistical approach and applied the statistics on a sample partly unsuitable to examine magnetic alignment. About 50% of their data represent noise (resolution of the images is too poor to enable unambiguous measurement of the direction of body axes, pastures are on slopes, near settlements or high voltage power-lines, etc.). Moreover, the authors have selected for their analysis only ~ 40% of cattle that were present on the pastures analyzed. Here, we reanalyze all usable data and show that cattle significantly align their body axes in North–South direction on pastures analyzed by Hert and co-authors. This finding thus supports our previous study. In addition, we show by using aerial Google Earth images with good resolution, that the magnetic alignment is more pronounced in resting than in standing cattle.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00359-011-0674-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Cattle; Magnetic alignment; Magnetoreception; Resting behavior
Farwell in Cogn Neurodyn 6:115–154, (2012) reviewed all research on brainwave-based detection of concealed information published in English, including the author’s laboratory and field research. He hypothesized that specific methods are sufficient to obtain less than 1 % error rate and high statistical confidence, and some of them are necessary. Farwell proposed 20 brain fingerprinting scientific standards embodying these methods. He documented the fact that all previous research and data are compatible with these hypotheses and standards. Farwell explained why failure to meet these standards resulted in decrements in performance of other, alternative methods. Meijer et al. criticized Farwell in Cogn Neurodyn 6:115–154, (2012) and Farwell personally. The authors stated their disagreement with Farwell’s hypotheses, but did not cite any data that contradict the three hypotheses, nor did they propose alternative hypotheses or standards. Meijer et al. made demonstrable misstatements of fact, including false ad hominem statements about Farwell, and impugned Farwell’s motives and character. We provide supporting evidence for Farwell’s three hypotheses, clarify several issues, correct Meijer et al.’s misstatements of fact, and propose that the progress of science is best served by practicing science: designing and conducting research to test and as necessary modify the proposed hypotheses and standards that explain the existing data.
Brain fingerprinting; P300-MERMER; P300; Event-related potential; Concealed information test; MERMER
A. Pollatsek, E. D. Reichle, and K. Rayner (2006a) argue that the critical findings inA. W. Inhoff, B. M. Eiter, and R. Radach (2005) are in general agreement with core assumptions of sequential attention shift models if additional assumptions and facts are considered. The current authors critically discuss the hypothesized time line of processing and indicate that the success of Pollatsek et al.’s simulation is predicated on a gross underestimation of the pretarget word’s viewing duration in Inhoff et al. and that the actual data are difficult to reconcile with the strictly serial attention shift assumption. The authors also discuss attention shifting and saccade programming assumptions in the E-Z Reader model and conclude that these are not in harmony with research in related domains of study.
saccade; attention; word recognition; reading
This paper develops a model of the nurse/physician authority relationship presented in an earlier issue of this journal, and responds to criticisms raised against that model in commentaries on that article. Specifically, I examine the discrepancy which exists between medical knowledge and nursing education, and show this discrepancy to be a difference in type, not quality. The implication is that improvements in nursing education will not affect the authority relationship between physician and nurse. To affect this relationship the nature of nursing education must change.
The use of contrast-enhanced intraoperative ultrasound for hepatocellular carcinoma has been already proposed as a novel technique to stage the disease during surgical resection. In the herein presented “letter to the editor”, the authors underline some important points, which have been raised following paper published in the January issue of World Journal of Gastroenterology.
Hepatocellular carcinoma; Liver surgery; Contrast-enhanced intraoperative ultrasound; Cirrhosis
The temporal context model posits that search through episodic memory is driven by associations between the multiattribute representations of items and context. Context, in turn, is a recency weighted sum of previous experiences or memories. Because recently processed items are most similar to the current representation of context, M. Usher, E. J. Davelaar, H. J. Haarmann, and Y. Goshen-Gottstein (2008) have suggested that the temporal context model (TCM-A) embodies a distinction between short-term and long-term memory and that this distinction is central to TCM-A’s success in accounting for the pattern of recency and contiguity observed across short and long timescales. The authors dispute Usher et al’s claim that context in TCM-A has much in common with classic interpretations of short-term memory. The idea that multiple representations interact in the process of memory encoding and retrieval (across timescales), as proposed in TCM-A, is very different from the classic dual-process view that distinct rules govern retrieval of recent and remote memories.
episodic memory; context; free recall; short-term memory; working memory
A comment on G. Litscher: Infrared thermography fails to visualize stimulation-induced meridian-like structures. Biomed. Eng. OnLine 2005, 4:38 (15 June 2005), with a response by the author.
The author responds to comments on the study published by Ravaud et al. in The Oncologist on sunitinib for medullary thyroid carcinoma.
Author response to the letter of Basso et al.
► We address the authors' criticisms of Range et al. (2007, Curr Biol, 17, 1–5). ► We point at unfavourable methodological differences between the two studies. ► Most critical is a substantial difference in the dogs' baseline performance. ► Priming cannot account for the selective imitation effect. ► We are therefore not surprised that the “replication” failed.
Canis familiaris; dog; imitation; rationality; replication
Using a scanning laser interferometer, we recently measured the volume velocity of the basilar membrane vibration in the sensitive gerbil cochlea and estimated that the cochlear power gain is ~100 at low sound pressure levels (Ren et al., Nat Commun 2:216–223, 2011a). We thank Shera et al. for recognizing the technical challenges of our experiments and appreciating the beauty of our data in their comment (Shera et al., J Assoc Res Otolaryngol (in press), 2011). These authors argue that our analysis is inappropriate, invalidating our conclusion; moreover, they suggest that our finding of a power gain of >1 could arise from a passive structure or cochlea. While our analysis and interpretation remain to be verified, they are justified according to commonly accepted assumptions and theories in cochlear mechanics. Here, we also show that the mathematical demonstration of a power gain of >1 in a passive cochlea by Shera et al. is inconsistent with our data, which show that the volume velocity and power gain decrease and become <1 as the sound level increases.
Cochlea; basilar membrane vibration; cochler amplifier; laser interferometer; traveling wave
In a recent article I reviewed an influential theory of sleep function, the “synaptic homeostasis hypothesis (SHY.)” According to SHY, sleep renormalizes synapses that are potentiated during prior wakefulness. I concluded that while SHY is a seminal theory with important implications about sleep function and the brain, its underlying mechanisms are poorly defined. In an accompanying article, the authors of SHY responded at length. Their reply is thoughtful and provocative, but unfortunately many of the points I raised were not accurately represented or addressed. In this brief commentary, I attempt to clarify some points of confusion. I also explain why any theory of sleep function is incomplete without an understanding of the underlying cellular mechanisms.
The authors respond to the comments of Mooiman et al.
The authors comment on the discussions of their work published in a recent issue of The Oncologist.
An author reply to the Letter to the Editor from Tu et al. regarding Pervasive sequence patents cover the entire human genome by J Rosenfeld and C Mason. Genome Med 2013, 5:27.
See related Correspondence by Rosenfeld and Mason, http://genomemedicine.com/content/5/3/27, and related letter by Tu et al., http://genomemedicine.com/content/6/2/14
The authors thank Hoppe et al. for their interest in the study of patients with
limited-stage diffuse large B-cell lymphoma of the bone (PB-DLBCL). There is
agreement that patients with PB-DLBCL should be managed with anthracycline-based
chemotherapy and, if local practice includes it, radiotherapy and that treatment
decisions should be based on patient characteristics, lymphoma extension, anatomical
site, and conventional risk factors.
The authors respond to the observations and remarks of Cavanna et al. concerning the
clinical guidance paper on giant cell tumor of bone (GCTB) in the era of denosumab
and update the paper with respect to the European Medicines Agency’s recent
positive opinion recommending denosumab for the treatment of adults and skeletally
mature adolescents with GCTB that is unresectable or for which surgical resection is
likely to result in severe morbidity
The future like ours argument implies no limitation on abortion rights. The author of the argument concedes that on the intended interpretation, abortion is not shown to be impermissible. The alternative self-represented future interpretation also implies a prochoice view.
Replying to the criticisms of Lebech, the author tries, regarding the issue of embryo research, to draw a line between what could be an international legal approach and what is a philosophical ontological quest. It is then up to the reader to decide if, and how far, these two different approaches can be complementary.