Economist: Blogs blamed for cheapening debate yet they have enriched economics ( my experience with JAMA )

I found this article in the Economist very timely in the context of a recent experience I had with a well known peer reviewed journal (more on that below).

Economics blogs: A less dismal debate | The Economist

Research (by two blogging economists at the World Bank) suggests that academic papers cited by bloggers are far more likely to be downloaded. Blogging economists are regarded more highly than non-bloggers with the same publishing record. Blogs have given ideas that failed to prosper in the academic marketplace, such as the “Austrian” theory of the business cycle, another airing (see article). They have also given voice to once-obscure scholars advancing bold solutions to America’s economic funk and Europe’s self-inflicted crisis.

The experience i recently had was when I sent this note to Journal of the American Medical Association, and got the attached response.

On Dec 27, 2011, at 12:19, jama-comments wrote:

Thank you for your comment. If you would like to send a letter to the
editor, you are welcome to do so at

—–Original Message—–
From: Ted Eytan, MD
Sent: Monday, December 12, 2011 11:44 AM
To: jama-comments
Subject: Inquiry re: recent editorial Should Patients See Their Lab
Results? (JAMA Feedback Form)

Comments sent via JAMA Feedback Page
TO: [email protected]
NAME: Ted Eytan, MD
PROMOTIONAL USE: (not answered)

Dear JAMA,

Wondering if you would entertain another editorial, co-written by a
physician and patient, entitled “Shouldn’t patients get direct access to
their lab results?” that would be based on actual data rather than on

I wrote a blog commentary here, thanks for entertaining the idea,

Should Patients Get Direct Access to Their Laboratory Test Results? – — JAMA

Ted Eytan, MD
Washington, DC

The response is a reasonable one in the world of the peer-reviewed journal (“format it the way we expect and maybe we’ll publish it”), however, it leaves one wondering “why go to the effort when I can just post my response in the blogosphere?”

The JAMA article itself has multiple links to share the article out in the social media space, but no space to comment directly on the article or receive trackbacks from social media responses, to share in. In other words, there’s talking, but not listening.

For that, there are now multiple channels outside of the peer-reviewed world, and as the Economist reports is happening in the field of economics, I think there is second guessing happening about the best venue to get ideas accepted in health care. See what you think, feel free to post your experiences.


Some days if I’m wondering if it is a case of the frog boiling in the pot. I’ve authored a book, an academic paper and manage multiple blogs and podcasts. Although I do like peer-review feedback from time to time, I often prefer the open conversation created through the evolving landscape of digital tools. I’m not sure if it is medicine or healthcare is to obsessed with being right, but there seems to be little room for much debate or conversation – things are either wrong or right. I have no problem being wrong, but I appreciate the opportunity to discuss the idea and really understand what the flaw in my reasoning, misunderstood or unknown facts, etc.

Thanks for being on the side of sharing. So glad to see more healthcare professionals taking the lead and moving the debate on healthcare renewal and reform online where everyone can take part.



@rdjfraser Dear Rob, Thank you for the insightful comment. It and your experience stand well on their own!

After reading your comment, I changed the footer on every page of this blog from (c) all rights reserved to a true sharing license to use the original content. Check it out. I am on the side of open leadership and optimism for the future, which includes sharing, thank you for being the same,


Ted Eytan, MD