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Blog fog? Using rapid response to advance science and promote debate
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  • Published on:
    Blogging is a good practice for accessibility

    NOT PEER REVIEWED
    The editors of this journal, Tobacco Control, and specifically the authors of the editorial “Blog fog? Using rapid response to advance science and promote debate” [1] highlight the need - or requirement, depending on the viewpoint - of utilising a specified platform to debate the finer points of an article.

    From an academic standpoint, individuals that have an interest in a specific field of study - such as Tobacco Control - will see, and respond to, such articles in the appropriate manner. However, one of the pitfalls prevalent in any rapid response platform, and this isn’t limited to the journal Tobacco Control, is the necessity of the journal’s guidelines to adhere to a specific writing format. This does have some advantages in keeping the debate over an article related exclusively to the article. However, there are some respondents that prefer to write an unabridged version of a critique lest the comment not pass the rapid response system for publication.

    There are several advantages to publishing a critique of an article outside the rapid response system [2] that allows for a broader audience to read and respond to both the article content and the critique.

    Personal blogs often reflect the style of the author, and also allow for greater freedom of expression including the use of imagery to illustrate vital points that many readers find both enjoyable and informative.

    Providing a platform within the journal must allo...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    I publish a blog critical of research in the field of Tobacco Control, though not specifically a target of this editorial. I am also a trustee of the New Nicotine Alliance (UK) that advocates for acceptance of reduced risk nicotine products. My response does not reflect the views of the NNA.
  • Published on:
    Chairperson New Nicotine Alliance Sweden/Press Officer INNCO.org
    • Atakan E Befrits, Policy research and harm reduction advocacy INNCO.org, New Nicotine Alliance

    This is a test message to ascertain if BMJ and Tobacco Control have gotten the rapid response feature up and running. If so this message should appear and those scientists globally wanting to file responses will be immediately alerted that this is now possible. The essence of any critique I personally may have with the BlogFog article is summarized in my declarations of intellectual COI. Submitted March 2nd, 2017.

    Conflict of Interest:
    FCTC article 1, point d defining "tobacco control" in terms of treaty law and International Law mandates harm reduction and that such harm reduction by virtue of zero provisions in the FCTC, must be regulated entirely outside the scope of the FCTC.
  • Published on:
    Disappointing retreat from the public square

    NOT PEER REVIEWED
    The editors of this journal, Tobacco Control, argue in their blog that debate about published articles should be concentrated on their rapid reaction facility. It is possible that they are making a constructive invitation to their critics to join a debating platform they might otherwise be wary of. However, the blog has been widely read as disparagement of other forms of engagement, notably social media and blogs. It is possible that the editors do not fully appreciate why people use blogs and social media to respond to papers they find problematic, and not Tobacco Control's rapid response feature. Here are several reasons:

    1. Trust

    Critics may consider, rightly or wrongly, that Tobacco Control has a track record of publishing papers that have dubious scientific merit, overconfident conclusions and policy recommendations that cannot be supported by the paper - almost always reinforcing a particular (abstinence-only) perspective. Critics may be concerned that their work will be treated unfairly or sidelined, or that they will be judged or ridiculed. They may distrust the editors, believe the journal is not impartial, or hold it in low esteem.

    2. Conflict of interest and incentives

    Not everyone is content to have their reactions edited or approved by the same people whose work they are criticising. Once a journal has published an article that is open to criticism, it develops a conflict of interest between its own r...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    I publish a blog often critical of articles published in Tobacco Control.
  • Published on:
    Request for a few important clarifications

    NOT PEER REVIEWED The authors of this editorial assert that a journal article’s authors are “entitled to be aware of and respond to critiques”, and imply that this is only possible if critiques appear in a forum attached to the journal. Setting aside the fact that authors can easily become aware of and respond to critiques on other forums, I am curious if the authors could offer some basis for claiming such an entitlement? It seems quite contrary to all existing laws, principles of ethics, cultural norms, and standard practices that relate to commentary about published work. Moreover the behavior of many of these very authors suggests they are willing to go to great lengths to avoid being made aware of critiques.

    It seems safe interpret the statement as saying that at least these particular authors would like responses to their work to appear on this page. And so, I am fulfilling their request. (Assuming this is allowed to appear, that is. I say that not because I believe there is anything in this comment that would warrant censorship, but to emphasize the blindness of this process. That is, the commentator really has no idea what will be allowed to appear.) I call the authors’ attention to two blog posts I have written critiquing this editorial to ensure they have the requested opportunity to be aware: https://antithrlies.com/2017/02/20/editors-of-t...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    I am one of the commentators who is the target of this editorial.
  • Published on:
    The value of this largly depends on the willingness to publish comments
    • Thomas P Pruen, Chief Scientific Officer ECITA, the Electronic Cigarette Indutry Trade Association

    NOT PEER REVIEWED
    While I would agree that comments that are directly applied to the article in question are better than blogs scattered across the internet, this policy is entirely dependent on the willingness of editors to publish critical comments that may not be formatted or composed in a style that they are entirely comfortable with. Will editors provide feedback to, for example, citizen activists on why their comments were not published, and how they could change them to make them more acceptable? This seems unlikely, and will only reinforce the perceived inequality of position.

    I would also be moved to wonder how editors will deal with rapid responses that link to lengthier works elsewhere? For example, the format of the rapid response does not lend itself well to appending images, which can often be useful to highlight problems.much more effectively than text.

    A more likely outcome of this policy is, I fear, an increasing separation into two echo chambers with no overlap, and with far too little exchange of thoughts between the proponents and opponents of vaping, to the detriment of the vast majority who are neither,

    Conflict of Interest:
    I work for a trade association, ECITA, which represents small and medium sized companies engaged in the manufacture, importation and sale of electronic cigarettes and other vaping products. ECITA has always had a focus on improving standards, and does not include any membership from e-cig companies owned by big tobacco, or tobacco companies directly.
    I personally have become a fervent believer in the cause of harm reduction, following my own successful switching from smoking to vaping in early 2009, despite my initial scepticism about the products. Insofar as it is possible, I try and maintain an evidence based position, despite my ideological view.