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Open letter to Robert M. Golub, Letters Section Editor, JAMA

Open letter to Robert M. Golub in response to JAMA editorial ‘Conflict over conflict of Interest’ and its disappearance and replacement.


Dear Dr Golub
In March this year JAMA published an on-line editorial on-line editorial entitled ‘Conflict over conflict of Interest’ (recently removed from JAMA’s website and from biomedical data-bases and replaced by a new editorial).  In April, three of us submitted a letter to you that was critical of some points in the original editorial. When you advised us that JAMA was ‘unable to publish’ our letter, you instructed us that your communication ‘may not be redistributed in any way without the sender’s consent’. This instruction surprised us as it seemed to be an unnecessary constraint. Also your email contained information that we thought was important, and of interest to Healthy Skepticism subscribers and others:
‘the underlying policy and issues related to the topic of your letter are under evaluation by the JAMA Journal Oversight Committee. After that Committee issues its report, the editors may consider publishing a followup editorial* about this policy.’ 
So our submitting author wrote to you, seeking consent to redistribute your email to members of Healthy Skepticism and the public domain.  She also asked your reasons for asserting that your message could not be redistributed, and what would be the consequences of redistributing the message without consent. You replied that ‘JAMA’s standard policy is that communications about a rejected submission are confidential between the authors and the editors’ and asked that we respect this policy by not distributing the correspondence beyond the co-authors.

We have written twice more with further questions, and since you have not replied, I now write this open letter, defying JAMA’s ban in the interests of open academic communication. I ask again
1. What is the justification for JAMA’s policy?
2. Do you agree that the free flow of information is important for the advancement of science?

Jon Jureidini
Healthy Skepticism


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