As editor of the British Medical Journal, Richard Smith has become known for using his high profile position to put the cat among the medical pigeons. Already this year there have been two issues where he has created a stir: first by resigning in July as professor of medical journalism at the University of Nottingham, in protest over the acceptance of money from the tobacco industry.

Then, in a recent debate on researchers declaring conflicts of interests and the responsibility of journals publishing their work (highlighted by Nature's new policy of openness published in August), he was an outspoken advocate for the need for transparency.

These latest issues highlight Smith's long-held interest in ethics, in particular the effects of information technology on science and the ethical issues subsequently raised.

Smith has watched with interest as the Internet and other technologies have revolutionized science and scientific research. Among...

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