The paper was sent to two reviewers and published after modification. Between acceptance and publication, some modelling that had been included in the original paper was removed. Some time after publication one of the people who had reviewed the study submitted a letter for publication that included this model. The original authors were rather surprised by this and they sent us a letter pointing out that their original paper had included this material. The question arises as to whether the reviewers had done anything improper. The authors of the paper knew who had reviewed their paper, and were rather surprised that one of them should have submitted this model. Nevertheless, the reviewer did not recommend removing the material, and he would not have known that the material had been removed until the paper was published. The authors have therefore taken the view that no further action should be taken, and we have complied with their wishes. Have we done the right thing?
_ The authors wanted to know if the model had been removed on the recommendation of the referee who had then gone on to use the model himself. _ It was thought that the reviewer had breached his duty to the editor, and should be asked (in a neutral sense) to clarify this. _ This case highlights the imbalance between reviewers and authors. If a senior author had refereed a junior author’s paper, s/he might be less likely to disagree or raise an objection in situations such as this.
Agreement was achieved between the authors and reviewers and explanatory correspondence was published in the journal.
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
A study by Japanese authors was submitted to specialist journal A. The manuscript was sent to three reviewers, including expert X. After two weeks, expert X contacted the editorial office to say that an identical manuscript had been sent by the competing specialist journal B to expert Y in the same unit as expert X. Expert X and expert Y had compared and discussed both manuscripts. Expert X said that the Japanese authors were clearly attempting dual publication, were therefore completely unethical,and should be reprimanded severely. As editor of journal A,what should be done about: 1 The issue of apparently simultaneous submission to two journals? 2 The breach of con?dentiality by expert X (and also expert Y, commissioned by another journal B)?
Journal B doesn’t state that reviewers should maintain confidentiality. The editor wrote to authors and received a garbled response saying that they meant to withdraw the paper from Journal A. There had also been a letter from the head of the institution saying that the “authors were considering their response.” It seems that this may be a genuine mistake because of sickness. This story was corroborated by all the authors. As to reviewer confidentiality, journals vary in their practice. Breaches of confidence may be justified “in the public interest”.
The paper was withdrawn from both journals. The head of the institution formally apologised to both journal and gave sufficient explanation to make it apparent that a genuine mistake had obviously been made. He also added that he felt the corresponding author, as well as all the others,had learnt from this mistake. The breach of confidentiality was discussed by the editors of both journals involved. Expert X admitted that he had not read the instructions to referees, and had not been aware of this particular aspect of peer review. He undertook to reform his ways. He is still being used as a reviewer for journal A.