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As editors we seldom get feedback on the EMJ. It is good to have questions raised about the journal and its contents. Avid readers of the letters section in emjonline may have been following correspondence that has questioned the “BETs” section and whether it is a good use of journal space and the editorial processes that underpin the BETs process.
We have to declare a conflict of interest in that one of the editorial team is heavily involved in BETs process. However, we, as the editors of the journal, have long formed the opinion that BETs is one of the “jewels in the crown” of the EMJ. Initially started using authors from Manchester, the system now allows online submission from any one with the enthusiasm to undertake work required to produce a BET. The editors have been impressed by the hard work and professionalism that goes into the production of BETs and we do not have concerns about the rigour of this process.
Emergency medicine is a practical subject and the BETs provide an approach that makes us think about the evidence base behind the decisions we make and the work we do. Admittedly more often than we would like the “bottom line” is that there is not a good evidence base. However, this is not the fault of the BETs process, it is a sign of the relative paucity of research in the fundamentals of our practice. Don’t shoot the messenger.
As to the question “are they worth the space?” I think a visit to the “top ten papers” section in emjonline shows the popularity of these articles. The fact that a number of other journals have copied this methodology verifies the appeal of this approach in medical journals.
The EMJ owes a great debit of gratitude to Kevin Mackway-Jones and his team for working with us in conceiving and producing this section. He replies on behalf of his group in the letter above.
We thank the readers for raising this issue and we agree that it is healthy to review our practice. We intend to carry out a full readership survey in the near future and if our readers tell us that BETs is no longer read then we would consider these views. However, we try to practice “evidence based editing”. The evidence we have at present is that this format is useful, popular, and well read. Your comments would be welcome through emjonline letters.
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