Some of the material in this paper has been published previously in reference 4 with kind permission of the BMJ Publishing Group. I am especially grateful to all of the members of COPE who have provided such a stimulating environment in which many of the ideas and concepts contained in this paper have evolved. I am particularly indebted to Richard Smith and Richard Horton who have taught me so much about the principles and practice of editorship. I should also like to pay a personal tribute to Peter Wilmshurst who continues to be a thorn in the flesh of the medical profession for the very best of reasons.

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