A clinical professor of medicine was asked to act as a reviewer for a submitted paper.The paper had not been presented publicly or in abstract form. The reviewer returned an extensive list of suggested alterations, but rated the paper highly. The other two reviewers also rated the paper highly, but suggested only minor modifications. The editor invited the authors to undertake a minor revision and subsequently accepted the revised paper without sending it back to the three reviewers. The reviewers, however, were sent a copy letter from the editor informing them that the revised manuscript had been accepted. The editor then received a letter from the clinical professor asking if he could have a copy of the accepted revision, or the page proofs. He also declared that his own group had been stimulated to examine the same markers in their own patient group following the review of the paper, and that his group felt that they could confirm and extend the important observations made by the submitting authors. _ Do reviewers have the right to closely follow a manuscript through to the point of publication? _ What should the editor do about the fact that this reviewer appears to have altered his research activity and direction as a direct consequence of reviewing the submitted paper?
There was a general feeling of discomfort about this reviewer’s actions but some felt that the reviewer had behaved honourably. Many journals routinely feedback to reviewers and there is no problem with reviewers building on this, provided the authors’ permissions are obtained. E-print/open review solves these problems which originate in a closed system.
Page proofs of the accepted paper were sent to the reviewer with the authors’ permissions. No action was taken against the reviewer with respect to his altered research activity