A paper was submitted and reviewed by one referee, who recommended that the paper be revised and then refereed again. The authors submitted the revised version which went back to the initial reviewer. In his second report the reviewer raised concerns that the revised version was fundamentally different from the first paper. The number of patients and the inclusion criteria had changed. This was put to the authors, who explained that the studies were of two different non-overlapping patient populations that they were investigating at the same time. They had intended to send only the second study in their original submission, but inadvertently submitted the first one by mistake. This was realised at the point of revisions, so they submitted the second study with an explanation in the covering letter. What should the editors have done?
_ The authors added that the error had been due to the wrong email attachment having been sent. _ The editors should have asked to have seen the original protocol for the study.
The first paper submitted was ignored and the second paper was peer reviewed and subsequently rejected.