Dr David Tuller: An Update on the Crawley Chronicles.

Countrygirl

Senior Member
Messages
5,166
Likes
26,901
Location
UK
Here's the latest chapter in the Crawley Chronicles--my response to the Health Research Authority about Bristol's argument that the dog ate the missing corrections and all the correspondence.

That is, Bristol has claimed that Professor Crawley, its methodologically, ethically and factually challenged grant magnet, sent off the appeals for corrections as instructed--only to have journals decline or overlook them for unstated reasons. Unfortunately, Bristol was unable to produce any correspondence that would support these claims. Oops!!
**********
Dear XXXX—
I want to express my thanks for the HRA’s efforts to get to the bottom of this perplexing situation and rectify it. Frankly, I am troubled by what appears to be Bristol’s attempt to deflect any responsibility for these irregularities. According to Bristol, it is all the fault of the high-profile journals in which Professor Crawley's work appeared. The implication is that these journals chose not to inform readers about important information regarding ethical aspects of the research they published. This explanation certainly strains credulity, and not just because the university is unable to provide any evidence of correspondence that would support these questionable claims.

Here are a few of the other reasons why it is hard to accept Bristol’s assertions at face value.

*Journals can certainly be incompetent, so perhaps, in some cases, the request to correct an ethics statement might be overlooked or otherwise fall through the cracks. But in seven out of eleven cases? While that is theoretically possible, it seems doubtful to me, especially absent any documentation of the veracity of Bristol’s statements.

*It is true, as you noted, that journals make their own decisions about corrections. But would serious journals really refuse to fix ethics statements when asked by the principal investigator on the basis of an authoritative report from the HRA and the investigator’s own academic institution? Again, that is theoretically possible, but I find it hard to fathom. If this is so, then the system for monitoring research ethics in the UK is far more broken than I have assumed.

*Three of the eleven papers were published in Archives of Disease in Childhood, a BMJ journal. One of these papers has been corrected; two have not. Presumably Professor Crawley would have informed the journal of all three required corrections at the same time. In that case, the argument being advanced is that Archives decided to correct only one paper and rejected corrections for the other two. Does this make sense to the HRA?

*If a journal ignored or rejected a request for a necessary correction, an investigator with a functioning ethical compass and an iota of integrity would have sought an intervention from the authorities that requested the change in the first place—in this case, the HRA and Bristol. Based on Bristol’s account, Professor Crawley took no such action but simply sent off her requests and then let the matter drop. If that’s what happened, her failure to pursue this matter to the fullest extent speaks volumes. It would seem she is indifferent as to whether or not readers are offered accurate information about her research.
This mess has harmed not only Professor Crawley’s reputation but Bristol’s and the HRA’s as well. Now Bristol has compounded the damage by throwing the journals under the bus and blaming them for everything.

I am glad the HRA has insisted that, going forward, Bristol should try to push through these corrections and obtain responses from any journals that refuse. Beyond fixing the problem, however, I believe further investigation into how this happened in the first place is warranted. Perhaps the HRA should invest the time to contact the journals, inform them of Bristol’s accusations of negligence and/or ineptitude, and seek their side of the matter.

Please keep me informed about further developments.
Best--David
David Tuller, DrPH
Senior Fellow in Public Health and Journalism
Center for Global Public Health
School of Public Health
University of California, Berkeley
**********
In the meantime, there are five days left in Berkeley's October crowdfunding for my project:
https://www.facebook.com/david.tuller.1#
 

Countrygirl

Senior Member
Messages
5,166
Likes
26,901
Location
UK
Next letter:

Now here's my letter to the Journal of Psychosomatic Research--another on the list of publications that did not correct their ethics statements, despite having been alerted by Professor Crawley, according to the University of Bristol:
Dear Dr Fiedorowicz:

In 2019, an investigation conducted jointly by the Health Research Authority and the University of Bristol (available here) found that Professor Esther Crawley had provided inaccurate information in the ethics statements of eleven papers—one of them published by the Journal of Psychosomatic Research. The report requested that Professor Crawley, a pediatrician at Bristol, correct the ethics statements in all eleven papers, and even provided the specific language to be used in each case.

This investigation arose out of concerns I had raised with the HRA about Professor Crawley’s decision to exempt all of the studies involved from ethical review based on a single research ethics committee letter. Three years after the joint HRA-Bristol report was issued, only four of the papers have been corrected; seven have not been. The uncorrected paper published by the Journal of Psychosomatic Research is CFS symptom-based phenotypes in two clinical cohorts of adult patients in the UK and the Netherlands (2016).
I recently alerted the HRA about these missing corrections, after which the agency sought an explanation from Bristol. Here’s what the HRA wrote the other day in a letter updating me on the situation: “In their response, the University informed us that Professor Crawley had notified the relevant journal editors…of the corrections in 2019, in accordance with the joint review’s recommendations. They [Bristol] reported that only four of the eleven journals implemented the changes.” (In fact, while there were eleven papers, only seven journals were involved, since some published multiple papers.)

It is of course perplexing that a major, well-respected publication like the Journal of Psychosomatic Research would decline to publish a correction to an ethics statement--especially when such action is requested by the lead investigator pursuant to a report from the HRA and the investigator’s own academic institution. Given Bristol’s suggestion that the responsibility for this inaction lies with the various journals, can you explain why the Journal of Psychosomatic Research did not correct the paper under discussion? (Perhaps past correspondence between Professor Crawley and journal editors about this matter would help to clarify the situation. Bristol did not provide any such correspondence to the HRA.)

The HRA has now requested that Bristol urge the relevant journals to correct the uncorrected papers. If any decline, the HRA has asked Bristol to solicit an explanation as to why. Since the Journal of Psychosomatic Research paper still includes an ethics statement that was deemed inappropriate and unacceptable by the joint HRA-Bristol report, does the journal intend to rectify the situation this time around? Beyond that, do you have any further comments about this matter?
I look forward to your response. (I would be happy to provide the proposed language from the joint HRA-Bristol report for the correction to the ethics statement in the uncorrected paper, if you'd like.)
Thanks--David
David Tuller, DrPH
Senior Fellow in Public Health and Journalism
Center for Global Public Health
School of Public Health
University of California, Berkeley
 

Countrygirl

Senior Member
Messages
5,166
Likes
26,901
Location
UK
Letter 3:

My letter to QJM: An International Journal of Medicine, another publication that did not correct an ethics statement in a paper by Professor Esther Crawley, even though she alerted the journal, according to the University of Bristol:

Dear Professor Donnelly:

In 2019, an investigation conducted jointly by the Health Research Authority and the University of Bristol (available here) found that Professor Esther Crawley had provided inaccurate information in the ethics statements of eleven papers—one of them published by QJM: An International Journal of Medicine. The report requested that Professor Crawley, a pediatrician at Bristol, correct the ethics statements in all eleven papers, and even provided the specific language to be used in each case.
This investigation arose out of concerns I had raised with the HRA about Professor Crawley’s decision to exempt all of the studies involved from ethical review based on a single research ethics committee letter. Three years after the joint HRA-Bristol report was issued, only four of the papers have been corrected; seven have not been. The uncorrected paper in QJM: An International Journal of Medicine was called "Defining the minimally clinically important difference of the SF-36 physical function subscale for paediatric CFS/ME: triangulation using three different methods" (2018).

I recently alerted the HRA about these missing corrections, after which the agency sought an explanation from Bristol. Here’s what the HRA wrote the other day in a letter updating me on the situation: “In their response, the University informed us that Professor Crawley had notified the relevant journal editors…of the corrections in 2019, in accordance with the joint review’s recommendations. They [Bristol] reported that only four of the eleven journals implemented the changes.” (In fact, while there were eleven papers, only seven journals were involved, since some published multiple papers.)
It is of course perplexing that a well-respected publication like QJM: An International Journal of Medicine would decline to publish a correction to an ethics statement--especially when such action is requested by the lead investigator pursuant to a report from the HRA and the investigator’s own academic institution. Given Bristol’s suggestion that the responsibility for this inaction lies with the various journals, can you explain why Health and Quality of Life Outcomes did not correct the paper under discussion? (Perhaps past correspondence between Professor Crawley and journal editors about this matter would help to clarify the situation. Bristol did not provide any such correspondence to the HRA.)

The HRA has now requested that Bristol urge the relevant journals to correct the uncorrected papers. If any decline, the HRA has asked Bristol to solicit an explanation as to why. Since the paper in QJM: An International Journal of Medicine still includes an ethics statement that was deemed inappropriate and unacceptable by the joint HRA-Bristol report, does the journal intend to rectify the situation this time around? Beyond that, do you have any further comments about this matter?
I look forward to your response. (I would be happy to provide the proposed language from the joint HRA-Bristol report for the correction to the ethics statement in the uncorrected paper, if you'd like.)
Thanks--David
David Tuller, DrPH
Senior Fellow in Public Health and Journalism
Center for Global Public Health
School of Public Health
University of California, Berkeley
22
 

BrightCandle

Senior Member
Messages
836
Likes
2,903
The mad lad has sent 7 of these letters for each of the outstanding journals questioning why they didn't correct the papers. This is going to get spicy because we all know Professor Crawley just gave us a dog ate my homework lie and Bristol covered it up, well they have gone and helped dig a deeper hole for themselves. I am enjoying this, it ought to be the end of Crawley's career but alas it wont be, I sure hope the journals enact a blacklist on Crawley and Bristol University however for blaming them when it comes to pass they never received any such correspondence.
 
Messages
47
Likes
45
WHat did she write which was wrong? Are they still treating children at Bristol with the Lightning Process and CBT?