## Tuesday, 2 April 2013

### Petty in pink

I have to admit that in some sense I am being petty here. But I also think that this story is actually quite interesting, so I'm posting about it.

As I've mentioned elsewhere in the blog (here and here), together with some colleagues I'm working on an extensive research project on the health economics of human papilloma virus vaccination.

We already have a few papers out on different aspects of the problem (there's one which describes in more details the statistical issues and another one which is more about the economic implications) and a few more are under way.

It seems that a group of (mainly Italian) researchers have taken a close interest in our papers and have started to send letters to the editors or posts on the journal blogs, to which we have duly replied (here and here).

Nothing wrong with criticising and commenting on our papers, of course. In fact, thanks to their comments we spotted some mistakes in the reference list of one of the paper (the references got messed up when the journal prepared the proofs, which we failed to notice $-$ so totally our fault there!). But most of the other comments were, in my view, a bit petty too, basically as if they were trying really hard to make a point, which was never there.

In the end, the editor of the journal sent us this message:
We sought advice from our editorial board in relation to the readers’ concerns and the response you provided. We have received comments from two Academic Editors who feel that your responses to the concerns are adequate. In light of the advice we have received, I am writing to let you know that we consider this matter settled by the public response you posted on the article.
Many thanks for your cooperation on this matter.
which was nice to see.

1. What got into those readers?!

After reading both their (all-caps-titled) questions and your exhaustive answer in the .docx document posted on your behalf by the staff, I am quite surprised that they still keep barking under the tree in a second (all-caps-titled) acrimonic question. Not only are their questions formulated in very aggressive terms, which does not facilitate the scientific debate, but your answer makes quite clear that they are mostly non-sensical.

The editor's answer is brilliant: it stops you from wasting time on this while you could be doing valuable research -- not to mention how irritating that can be. I wish he would paste it behind the latest "question" from the very same readers. Well done!

Well done for the way you dealt with this -- and the way the editor did, too, allowing ample space for scientific debate yet stopping it short of becoming an energy-wasting troll-feeding forum.

1. Thank you Julien, especially for actually taking the time to go back to the "evidence" and see for yourself! I too think the editor has handled this very well $-$ we were really struggling because on the one hand we thought we should post another response, but on the other hand we felt that it was really not necessary, given our previous one...

I'll say no more... ;-)

2. As we say in Italy: "So soddisfazioni" :-)