Trial By Error: Where’s My Apology, BMJ Open?
24 OCTOBER 2018
By David Tuller, DrPH
This morning I sent the following e-mail to Dr Fiona Godlee, the editor-in-chief of The BMJ and editorial director of BMJ. I cc’d Professor Vincent Racaniello, the host of Virology Blog, and Carol Monaghan MP, who sits on the House of Commons Health and Technology Committee.
Dear Dr Godlee—
I am seeking an apology for untrue claims about my reporting that BMJ Open made last fall in a statement to the Committee on Publication Ethics. The statement involved a study that investigated whether school absence records could help identify children who might be suffering from the devastating illness variously known as myalgic encephalitis, chronic fatigue syndrome, ME/CFS and CFS/ME. I am also appealing to you to address the study’s documented violations of ethical and methodological principles, since BMJ Open has failed to do.
The investigators exempted the study from ethical review on the specious grounds that it was “service evaluation” rather than “research” and therefore did not require this level of scrutiny. They supported this decision by citing an opinion from the regional research ethics committee, even though that opinion had nothing to do with the study in question.