Transparency of manuscript reviewing is important and therefore some journals have started to use open review.

In all the medical BMC journals, reviewers are asked to sign their reviews and the pre-publication history of each paper is posted on the web with the published article.

The comments of reviewers, and the replies by the authors may be informative for the readers of the published paper. All relevant considerations cannot be included in the final report, for example, because of space limitations. Therefore the reviewer comments and replies by authors are of additional interest to those readers who are seriously interested in the topic.

However, in the case of rejection the BMC policy is semi-transparent. Although the reviewer comments are made available as net versions (below), the refutations of the reviewer comments are not.

Since the comments of reviewers and replies by authors are important when considering the validity of a scientific paper, I am briefly describing the reviewer comments and their counter-comments for the paper below.


In August 2009, I submitted my manuscript
“Vitamin E may affect the life-span of men, depending on dietary vitamin C and smoking”
to the journal “BMC Medicine”

I received two reviewer comments:

Referee 1:
Referee 2:

The manuscript was rejected on the basis of these two reviewer comments:

However, the editor wrote that:
“If you ... are able to otherwise fully address the referees' concerns (in your point by point and as limitations in your manuscript), we would suggest that you consider a resubmission to BMC Public Health ( If you are able to do this, a full covering letter, explaining the revisions made, should accompany the submission..”

Since reviewer 1 did not point out any valid flaws in my manuscript, and reviewer 2 suggested “publication in BMC Medicine after minor essential revisions”, I followed editor's suggestion and wrote replies addressing the referees' concerns:

Replies to Reviewer 1 comments:

Replies to Reviewer 2 comments:

These comments and replies describe which kinds of issues have been explicitly considered in addition to the text published in the final paper.

I submitted the manuscript to BMC Geriatrics which appeared more suitable for this manuscript than a public health journal suggested by the editor. Given that I sent to BMC Geriatrics the above reviewer comments and my replies to them, I assumed a preliminary decision within a few weeks. However, I received no replies to several inquiries about the status of the manuscript and after two months I withdrew the manuscript.

I also submitted the manuscript to Rejuvenation Research, which rejected it mainly because the editor considered that there was too much overlap with my previous manuscript. Although this is a sound criterion for selecting which manuscripts to accept, it is unrelated to scientific validity, and I disagreed also about the level of overlap.

The manuscript was finally published:
Hemilä H, Kaprio J.
Vitamin E may affect the life-span of men, depending on vitamin C and smoking
Age and Ageing 2011;40:215-220
Links to references are added

Harri Hemilä