One of these was a U.S. journal called The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (no relation to the British journal of the same name that published, then retracted, the Kuklo paper):
Dr. Andersen contacted the American journal’s editor, Dr. James D. Heckman, who confirmed in an e-mail message that Dr. Kuklo had submitted the report in mid-2007. The journal rejected it two months later, sending Dr. Kuklo the comments of an editor and two outside doctors who had reviewed it, Dr. Heckman wrote.
Dr. Andersen, curious about what Dr. Kuklo had actually submitted, asked Dr. Heckman for copies of those reviews. But the editor turned him down, even though Dr. Andersen was supposedly one of the study’s authors. In a recent interview, Dr. Heckman said that his journal, like many others, considered such reviews confidential and shared them only with a study’s lead author.
“It is all confidential information,” Dr. Heckman said, when asked by a reporter for the reviews. “It is protected by the peer-review process.”
So, what’s the rationale for making the lead author privy to information the journal keeps confidential from the coauthors? Wouldn’t the journal editors want all of the named authors to be able to do pre-publication quality control work on the study?
In light of policies of this sort that actually block communication with coauthors, I have to wonder whether journal editors have a very different view of what authorship involves than do many working scientists. Do journal editors mean to give their readership the wrong impression of who is willing (and able) to stand behind the papers they publish?
Must-read post of the day!