Dr David Tuller: Update on Professor Crawley’s Uncorrected Ethics Statements

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Trial By Error: Update on Professor Crawley’s Uncorrected Ethics Statements
6 October 2022 by David Tuller 1 Comment

By David Tuller, DrPH
*October is crowdfunding month at UC Berkeley. If you like my work, consider making a tax-deductible donation to Berkeley’s School of Public Health to support the Trial By Error: project:
https://crowdfund.berkeley.edu/project/33528

In August, I alerted both the University of Bristol and the UK’s Health Research Authority about a problem. In a joint report published in 2019, Bristol and the HRA requested that the university’s methodologically and ethically challenged pediatrician and grant magnet, Professor Esther Crawley, correct 11 papers on ME/CFS. (The studies generally referred to the illness as CFS/ME). Specifically, Professor Crawley was supposed to correct each paper’s ethics statements, and the report itself provided proposed language in each case.

Easy, right? But three years later, it seems only four of these eleven corrections have been made. That the other seven papers remain uncorrected is hard to explain and impossible to excuse or defend. The HRA responded to my concerns quickly, letting me know that it would look into the matter and get back to me by October 4th—this past Tuesday. In contrast, Bristol’s legal department responded with dismissal, informing me curtly that the university would only answer questions from the HRA.

(Bristol doesn’t like me. In the past, the vice-chancellor had complained multiple times to Berkeley’s chancellor about my “behaviour.” Presumably, the university was unhappy about my critiques of Professor Crawley’s ethics and methods. Berkeley determined that the complaints were completely without merit, and advised me to continue with my work.)