I applied the letter online or by e-mail to several journal in neuroscience. The actual answers below. The "take home" message is that editors in neuroscience don't think that such letter is publishable.
NeuroImage - first claim that it has been addressd, and that a "full commentary" is required, and then try to discourage me from writing such full commentary.
4 March 2003
Dear Yehouda Harpaz: REPRODUCIBIITY OF COGNITIVE BRAIN IMAGING OF THE CEREBRAL CORTEX Many thanks for sending your letter for consideration at NeuroImage. I am responding on behalf of the editors. The issue that you raise is a very important one. However, I am afraid that we cannot publish it. The issue of inter-subject variability and reproducibility in neuroimaging has been addressed in numerous scientific publications over the past 10 years and, as you point out, remains an important and contentious area. To be discussed properly, in a scientific communication, this issue deserves a full commentary with a comprehensive review of the pertinent literature. I am afraid that I do not know whether your background and expertise qualifies you to do this, but it is something that you might want to consider. With best wishes Yours sincerely Professor Karl J Friston===========================================================
Dear Dr Harpaz, Many thanks for your suggestion for a letter to the editor on the lack of reproducibility of imaging results. Following consultation with our Advisory Editorial board, I am afraid that we will not be publishing your letter in a future issue. I am sorry to be the bearer of discouraging news, however, given that space in the journal is limited, it is inevitable that we are unable to commission many worthy ideas. Yours sincerely, Sian Lewis _______________________________ Siān Lewis, PhD Editor, Trends in Neurosciences===========================================================
Dear Dr Harpaz Thank you for your Correspondence submission, which we regret we are unable to publish. Pressure on our limited space is severe, so we can offer to publish only a few of the many submissions we receive. Naturally, I am sorry to convey a negative response in this instance. Yours sincerely Lizzie Wrobel Correspondence Nature===========================================================
Dear Dr. Harpaz, Thank you for your letter to Science addressing the Report by Dr. Zeineh et al. I regret to say that we are not able to publish it. We receive many more letters than we can accommodate and so we must reject most of those contributed. We appreciate your interest in Science. Sincerely, Etta Kavanagh Associate Letters Editor Science Magazine EK/bw===========================================================
Dear Dr. Harpaz, Thank you very much for your email. Many results in brain imaging are considered by the community to be reasonably robust, e.g. cortical areas such as MT+/MST respond to visual motion and the fusiform face area responds to faces, despite some continued debates over the exact location and function of these areas. There is a trend toward larger numbers of subjects and a growing insistence that results be robust under random effects analyses. I agree that it would be nice if more studies started by replicating previous results and then explored conceptually important extensions of those experiments. I do not feel that Neuron is the appropriate forum for your letter. Perhaps you could try TINS. I do appreciate your interest in our journal, however, and wish you luck. Sincerely, Kenny Kenneth Blum, Ph.D. Deputy Editor Neuron===========================================================
Dear Mr. Harpaz Re: EJN-2003-02-05455 Reproducibility of Cognitive Brain imaging of the cerebral cortex Thank you for your manuscript. I regret to inform you, however, that it is not acceptable for publication in The European Journal of Neuroscience. The Receiving Editor and I agree that the subject of your study is not of sufficient general neurobiological interest for publication in the Journal and suggest submission to a more specialized Neuroimaging Journal. We have, therefore, decided not to send the manuscript out for review, since we are certain that this will also be the view of the referees. With best wishes Barry J Everitt Editor in Chief European Journal of Neuroscience===========================================================
Dear Dr. Harpaz, Thank you for submitting your Letter to the Editor "Reproducibility of cognitive brain imaging..." to Nature Neuroscience. We agree with you that reproducibility is important in brain imaging, as it is in all experimental science. However, as you note, some of these ideas are already in the published literature. Furthermore, we feel that you would need to express this argument far more precisely and quantitatively before it is appropriate for a broad audience. Considering that, in addition to the fact that we receive many such letters, and because we have only a limited amount of space and thus must be highly selective about which ones to publish, I'm sorry that we will not be able to publish your letter. I am sorry not to be more positive on this occasion Yours sincerely, -John Spiro================================ My reply to the chief editor
Dear Charles Jennings, The letter to the editor NN-LE07967 was rejected by John Spiro with the message below. He uses two arguments: 1) That the ideas are already published. This is simply false, because none of the references made the point about all the field, none of them made the point that there are no reproducible settings, none of them call for an effort to test the reproducibility of Cognitive Brain Imaging, and all of them, apart from the quoted sentences, gave quite strong impression that there is no problem with reproducibility. 2) That it needs to be more precise and quantitative. That is clear nonsense, because you cannot make lack of reproducibility precise or quantitative. Thus the rejection "reasons" are actually just excuses, and the real reasons are not actually in the letter. I assume that this because they are too embarrassing to make explicit, presumably because they are "political" rather than scientific. Maybe the editor is worried that he or NN will incur hostility if they publish it, or he "religiously" believe in CBI and hence cannot accept any serious questioning of it. The situation in CBI is quite scandalous, because we have hundreds, probably thousands by now, published articles which present irreproducible data as if it is reproducible. By publishing such articles and refusing to publish anything questioning it, you are contributing to this scandal. Yehouda Harpaz============================ Chief editor reply
Dear Dr Harpaz, Thank you for your message. My colleagues have considered your submission carefully, and have concluded that it is not appropriate for Nature Neuroscience. I do not see that there is anything to be gained through a prolonged debate, so I am afraid that we must ask you to consider the matter closed. Sincerely, Charles Jennings Editor===========================================================
Dear Dr Harpaz, My apologies for the delay in communicating a decision on your proposed article, 'Reproducibility of cognitive brain imaging of the cerebral cortex' submitted to Trends in Cognitive Sciences. Space in our review and opinion sections is at a premium and given the large number of interesting papers submitted over the last few months, it has taken us some time to finalise priority for our upcoming schedules. Unfortunately, after careful consideration, I am afraid I must inform you that your proposal cannot be recommended for publication in TiCS. My apologies for being the bearer of discouraging news, but it is inevitable that we are unable to publish many worthy ideas. I hope that you find an alternative place for publication. Yours sincerely, Shbana Rahman===========================================================
Dear Dr Harpaz, I apologise for the delay in responding to you about your letter to the editor submitted to Cognitive Neuropsychology. Unfortunately Cognitive Neuropsychology does not publish letters to the editor so I'm afraid I cannot accept the letter. I apologise for this, but hope that you may wish to submit a full article to the journal in the future. Best wishes, Sophie Sophie Forster Journals Editorial Assistant Psychology Press 27 Church Road Hove