A couple of years ago, I noted that some journals were not making the process of commenting on articles especially easy. My latest experience suggests that little has changed.
On April 26 this year, I read A comparison of feature selection and classification methods in DNA methylation studies using the Illumina Infinium platform. It’s an interesting comparative study, completely devoid of the code used to reach the conclusions. Nothing unusual about that – most published articles are similarly deficient. Still, I thought it was worth highlighting the issue. My comment:
This type of comparative study is potentially very useful. However, how are we supposed to reproduce the results or try the methods for ourselves without the code used by the authors? I find it baffling that journals publish statistical analyses without sufficient detail for others to reproduce.
Eleven weeks later…I receive a response:
Many thanks for writing to BMC Bioinformatics with a comment for one of our articles. We are in principle always willing to publish a variety of points of view. However, in this instance I should be most grateful if you could slightly rephrase your comments with a rather more positive slant.
We are an open access series and encourage authors to provide code and data to the readers of our BMC series journals.
Well OK…my comment could have been more constructive and I could have focused on the article, rather than drifting off into a more general rant about “the state of things.” And sure, site owners should have their own rules regarding comments – I do. That said: 11 weeks, to request a slight rewording of something not particularly offensive?
I’ll stick to discussing articles in near real-time on Twitter, thanks. Judging by comparison of my Twitter stream to journal websites, so will everyone else. Perhaps it’s time for journals to admit that in general, comments on the article page itself don’t work and just turn them off.