In 1984, journal X published a brief report of a randomised trial as a letter to the editor. No full publication of this trial followed, despite calls for this from colleagues in the field. It took the intervention of a regional research ethics committee and a dean to persuade the investigators to write a final manuscript.This paper has still not been submitted for publication, although some of the data are available in the Cochrane library. A few colleagues have had access to the final manuscript after agreeing to strict confidentiality.These latest data do not support the optimistic conclusion of the original letter. Another research team has asked the journal to: _ ask the original authors to confirm their preliminary results, and if they cannot, to retract the letter _ consider retracting the letter _ consider writing about the case in another way. Should the editors invite the research team to explain the story in a correspondence letter, and ask the original authors to reply?
_ Is it a form of misconduct not to report the final result? _ If the authors don’t discharge their responsibility, is it the duty of the editor? _ The research team should submit a letter to the editor, who should then invite the original authors to respond.
The research team was invited to write to the journal. Their response is still awaited. The research team was invited to write to the journal, but as no response was forthcoming, the case was closed in November 2002.