Thursday 9 February 2012


There is always a degree of trepidation when submitting a research article or letter to a journal or professional periodical. You spend weeks, sometimes months, getting your article just right (or so you think), formulating a persuasive cover letter to the Editor and checking and re-checking that all your text and  figures are complete, labelled and set in the right font and type. Then off it goes and the waiting begins. 

I don't mind admitting that I have probably had more negative replies than positive ones over my research career with regards to paper submissions. I am probably setting myself up for a fall in saying that as the shouts of 'your research is c**p' begin to resonate. The usual reply to such rejection is to stop feeling sorry for yourself (which normally lasts about a day), follow-up the peer reviewer comments as best you can, and look for another home for the manuscript and start the whole process again.

So it was recently with a short piece I submitted to The Psychologist, the monthly publication of the British Psychological Society (BPS). The manuscript in question was a short review titled 'The psychology of the gut'. It was an attempt to summarise a few areas which seem to crop up quite a lot of this blog with regards to how our gastrointestinal tract (gut) might not necessarily just have a 'digesting food' role and bring it to a wider psychology-related audience. With articles like this recent one from a Psychologist on autism, I do wonder if we perhaps need to update a few people.

To be fair, the psychology/gut submission was always a bit of a long shot for consideration for publication; something discussed with the Editor who was very nice about the whole thing (and no, I'm not just saying that to score Brownie points). There was an option to shorten the piece to a letter for further submission, but I don't think that is for me when there is so much to discuss. So instead I'm going to do something else, and reproduce the article as a link for this post. I know, I know, (i) 'where is the peer-review', and (ii) 'this is a blog not a professional publication'. My answer: so what.

By writing this piece, I am not turning my back on peer-review and scientific publication; not by any means. But in this day and age when the Internet is power and social media gives everyone a voice, why can't my voice be heard also?


  1. Sandler's work was very interesting. Was there much follow up for that? (link to a bbc article)

    I initially became aware of you, and interested and stayed because of the PKU example. Wilsons Disease, Hemachromatosis (which a friend died of, because it was not diagnosed), Pyroxidone dependent epilepsy...To say autism is all in one's head and looking for the answers in the brain solely appears to be a little facetious.

    Perhaps the Psycho-"anal"-ists could have been on to something, if they could have pulled their head out. I'm sorry...I need to learn to shut up.

  2. Thanks for the comment.

    Insofar as Sandler's work... I have seen nothing following up their specific findings with vancomycin, even after 12 years presence in the scientific literature. Granted there is the whole 'antibiotic resistance' worry but one would have at least expected some larger trials even to try and dispute their findings. That said there does seem to be more of a move to looking at gut bacteria and autism in recent times as per the Williams papers. Also, there was quite a nice review of probiotics and autism published recently (full-text):

    I have post coming up soon on the potential double-edged sword that is antibiotics and autism.

    Having read the Irish Examiner article several times just to make sure that I didn't read it wrong, I can only shake my head with disappointment that some people still cling onto these psycho"anal"ytical views after all these years. I will openly say that Freud and related commentators and their ideas have probably been the most destructive force to autism down the years, hindering research and causing intense sadness and distress. It is high time that such notions were consigned to history.


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