Gøtzsche PC, Delamothe T, Godlee F, et al. Adequacy of authors' replies to criticism raised in electronic letters to the editor: cohort study. BMJ 2010;341:c3926. http://www.bmj.com/content/341/bmj.c3926.full
Letters to the editor are an essential part of scientific debate, and they may alert readers to limitations in research papers that have been overlooked by the authors, peer reviewers, and editors. A study of research papers submitted to the BMJ that had been the subject of substantive criticism
shows that authors are reluctant to respond to criticisms of their work, although they are not less likely to respond when criticisms are severe. Editors should ensure that authors take relevant criticism seriously and respond adequately to it.