[...] we've always been told how brilliant this peer review thing is, haven't we? Now, though, it is apparently shite - glad you cleared that up for us, BMJ.
But their assertion that "the source of funding can influence the outcomes of studies in invisible ways" is funnier than any comic could ever be seeing as they thought it perfectly acceptable to publish, in July, a study celebrating the astounding success of pharmaceutical products ... written by a panel with pharmaceutical funding interests as long as Peter Crouch's arms.Interesting, then. that BAT's Chief Scientific Officer has seen fit to comment.
The BMJ’s new policy of banning consideration of scientific studies based on their source of funding is particularly disappointing in the light of the BMJ’s historical policy of encouraging robust scientific discourse independent of ideology. Ten years ago the BMJ was “passionately anti-tobacco” but also “passionately pro-debate and pro-science” and further commented that the type of ban recently instituted “would be anti-science”. Allegations of misconduct by the tobacco industry were cited at that time in support of a proposed ban that the BMJ rightly rejected.
It is ironic that the BMJ has now revised its prior view.Isn't it just?
It has been argued that tobacco harm reduction is potentially the world’s greatest public health opportunity today. To have this kind of impact, those with an interest must find pragmatic ways to work together to find solutions based on sound science. For this research to be disseminated widely, it will be important for the science publishing industry to retain an independent, critical, yet open approach.Harm reduction, of course, includes e-cigs. One of the chief detractors of e-cigs is Mad Stanton Glantz, who was referenced in the BMJ's original statement of their intention to ignore everyone who offers an opinion differing with that of the public health Mafia.
How convenient, then, that this ban should take effect at a time when a global debate is raging about - you guessed it - harm reduction and, in particular, e-cigs. There has never been a time when it is more important to listen to all sides ... unless you're a publication wholly owned by the e-cig hating BMA, of course.
We have also noted statements you have made in relation to the peer-review process currently followed at the BMJ. It appears that the BMJ Editors are concerned with the effectiveness of their peer-review system. This is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. Studies approved through peer review have long been the currency of scientific credibility. The reputation of the BMJ is clearly dependent on this capability functioning properly. Applying selective censorship does not aid in addressing fundamental problem, and separates the BMJ from journals of unassailable scientific integrity and relegates it to the class of journals that politicise science.
We respectfully invite you to revisit your decision not to consider for publication any scientific studies funded by the tobacco industry on the basis that such a policy is, in the BMJ’s own words, “anti-science”.In other words, as I suggested, the BMJ has discarded its integrity and is nothing more now than a partial, rickety rag hopelessly compromised by its acceptance of pharma funded studies without question - while blackballing those funded by others - yet attempting to pretend it still possesses some semblance of calm, unbiased authority.
Such a shame.
You can read the response in full here.