A couple of months back me and Stuart Phillips published a letter to the editor in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism (https://nutritionandmetabolism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12986-017-0201-7). Of course, we have not received a response yet and do not expect to. I don’t blame the authors for refusing to respond, as I think their actions would be hard to defend 😉

At the same time we submitted unique versions of the letter to both of the other journals that published the papers we were critical of; The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research and The European Journal of Applied Physiology (EJAP). The Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism was the only to publish the letter.

With this in mind, I wanted to share the correspondence between me and EJAP after receiving the rejection.


Email 1: From EJAP
Ms. No. EJAP-D-17-00240
Inconsistencies in HMB-FA and ATP supplement research
European Journal of Applied Physiology
Dear Dr. Gentles,
The Letter to the Editors is dedicated to discussions about papers recently published in EJAP. Since your letter relates to a paper published in EJAP in 2014, it does not fulfill this criteria and we cannot accept it for publication.
Yours sincerely,
Editors-in-Chief Westerterp/Westerblad

European Journal of Applied Physiology

Email 2: My response to EJAP
Hello Westerterp and Westerblad,
I understand our submitted letter is related to a 2014 article, but until recently, it could not be identified that a single control group was used and reported in all 3 papers. So, while the paper isn’t recently published, the breach of research guidelines has only recently become apparent.

If there is a time limit to address these issues via a Letter to the editors, what other options are there to address dishonest research activity?

Email 3: EJAP response to my above
Dear Dr Gentles,
The purpose of EJAP is to publish scientifically important results in the field of applied physiology. At the time of its publication, the paper you refer to fulfilled this criterion and was published. Subsequent to the publication, EJAP cannot act either as judges or a discussion forum. If you have serious accusations about the paper you should send a letter to the employer/institutions of the authors and ask for an investigation.

Best regards, Håkan Westerblad and Klaas Westerterp

Email 4: My final response and last email between us
At the time of its publication, the paper did not fulfill this this criterion, it merely passed peer review. The problems were still present when it was published, the proverbial wool was simply pulled over the eyes of the reviewers. Addressing your other points:
– You act as a judge when a paper is published, therefore it is well within your responsibility to act as a judge when serious problems arise with published research.
– EJAP has a category for “Letters to editor”, of which this is; I did not see “Discussion Board” as an option.
– With regard to your comment about the employer, the last time I checked, the employer did not publish the paper, EJAP did.
At the end of the day, it seems you have no interest in policing your own journal when you later find the results you have published, are not only not important, but entirely dishonest.