Rejection answers to my Letter about reproducibility.

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:


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
Trends in Neuroscience - rejects without a reason

20 Feb 2003

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
Nature - rejects without a reason

18 feb 2003

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

Science - rejects without a reason. The "report by Dr. Zeineh et al" is a a brain imaging paper, though not of the cortex, paper that appeared in Science a week or two before they got my letter, and they decided that my letter is associated with it

19 19 Feb 2003

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

We appreciate your interest in Science.


Etta Kavanagh
Associate Letters Editor
Science Magazine


Neuron - This one actually interesting. First he pretends to argue with what I am saying, but what he says does not actually contradict anything that I say. That the community considers some results "reasonably robust" doesn't make them reproducible. And larger number of objects and Random Effect Analysis don't give reproducibility (See here for discussion). When he actually comes to reject the letter, he doesn't use the arguments, just says that he "feels" that Neuron is not appropriate. I actually answered this, but he didn't reply to my answer.

10 Feb 2003
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.



Kenneth Blum, Ph.D.
Deputy Editor
European Journal of Neuroscience - Say that the subject is not of inetrest to their readers, which is quite an impressive statement considering the importance of reproducibility. The sugestion to send to a more specialized journal is a dummy, they know that such journals will reject it.

10 Feb 2003

Dear Mr.  Harpaz

Re: EJN-2003-02-05455
Reproducibility of Cognitive Brain imaging of the cerebral

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
Nature Neuroscience - In this case the answer was stupid enough that I replied to the main editor explaining why it is stupid. He rejected without further argument.

5 Feb 2003

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
6 Feb 2003

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
    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
7 Feb 2003

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


Charles Jennings
Trends In Cognitive Science - Interpret it as a proposal for an article. Obviously, reproducibility is of very low priority for them.
14 May 2003

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

Cognitive Neuropsychology - Maybe genuine answer, though journals don't have aporblem publishing letters even if normally the don't .
15 Aug 2003

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 Forster
Journals Editorial Assistant
Psychology Press
27 Church Road