"A nobody and a nothing" prevails in fight with august medical journal

A dispute between JAMA and a reader goes wild

Things aren’t looking good for the Journal of the American Medical Association these days. Over the last couple of weeks, a battle has played out in the pages of the Wall Street Journal between the medical journal and a justifiably disgruntled reader. A year ago, JAMA published a study of an antidepressant that didn’t cite the author’s conflict of interest (he received funding from the drug maker) and didn’t mention that cognitive behavioural therapy was just as effective in treating depression as Lexapro. The reader, a neuroanatomy prof in the know, wrote a letter of complaint—to the British Medical Journal. JAMA called him and allegedly threatened his future in science, then called his superiors to have the BMJ letter retracted. JAMA’s editor in chief, responding to a call from the WSJ, reportedly referred to the prof as “a nobody and a nothing”. Long story short, the prof had sent a letter to JAMA citing his concerns, but the journal didn’t run a correction until after the BMJ letter was published. For a full explanation, read this riveting summary on the Effect Measure science blog. The best part: JAMA has decided to make it policy that complaints not be revealed to the press until after the journal has investigated the matter. As the blog aptly observes: “what was just dumbass is being elevated to the level of policy.”

Effect Measure

Looking for more?

Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.