Clear evidence of falsification of data should now close the door on this damaging vaccine scare
In a series of articles starting this week, and seven years after first looking into the MMR scare, journalist Brian Deer now shows the extent of Wakefield’s fraud and how it was perpetrated.
The alleged MMR/autism fraud was exposed this week by the British Medical Journal. Below are the links to the main documents in this case.
The original article:
Wakefield AJ, Murch SH, Anthony A, Linnell, Casson DM, Malik M, et al. Ileal lymphoid nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. Lancet 1998;351:637-41. Full Text
Retraction–Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. Lancet 2010 Feb 6;375(9713):445.
The BMJ editorial:
Godlee F, Smith J, Marcovitch H. Wakefield’s article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent [editorial]. BMJ January 5, 2011; 342:c7452.
Journalist Brian Deer’s article in the BMJ:
Deer, Brian. Secrets of the MMR scare: How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed. BMJ January 5, 2011;342:c5347
Brian Deer’s blog entry:
Piltdown medicine: The missing link between MMR and autism. Jan. 6, 2011.
Globe & Mail article:
Picard A. Medical fraud revealed in discredited vaccine-autism study. The Globe and Mail, Jan. 6, 2011.
Determination on Serious Professional Misconduct (SPM) and sanction [of] Dr Andrew Jeremy WAKEFIELD. This case is being considered by a Fitness to Practise Panel applying the General Medical Council’s Preliminary Proceedings Committee and Professional Conduct Committee (Procedure) Rules 1988. Date: 24 May 2010
Fitness to Practice Hearing – General Medical Council. Date: 28 January 2010
This article by Paul Taylor was published in the Globe & Mail on March 6, 2009:
Plagiarists beware – cybersleuths are on the case
An online program can scan medical databases for cases of copying, helping journal editors ferret out dubious reports
The article is about eTBLAST, a computer program developed by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and available on the Web at eTBLAST.org.
From the Web site:
eTBLAST is best described as a text similarity engine rather than a keyword search engine. For most search engines, such as Google and PubMed, the user must distill their ideas down to a very few keywords, and then try a variety of combinations of them to try to get the most relevant documents. eTBLAST takes a whole paragraph, such as a scientific abstract or, say, an invention description, which usually contains hundreds of keywords, as a query. The user simply pastes in their paragraph into the text box and then submits it to the engine using the “Search” button.
eTBLAST first takes this natural language paragraph, strips it of simple words such as “the, a, of, and” and then it searches its database (Medline, Institute of Physics, US Patent database, etc.) to find those entries that match the maximum number of the remaining keywords, weighted by the frequency of each keyword in all the literature being searched. This is a compute intensive process, but when done it keeps the top 400 ‘hits’ (e.g., Medline abstracts) and then it starts the second phase of the computations. It then does a sentence by sentence alignment, which then accounts for the proximity and order of the words in the query when compared to the abstract ‘hits’. A final similarity score is computed, and then the resulting ‘hits’ are ranked and presented to the user. The ‘hits’ can be viewed in your browser, as a link.
Here is a very helpful article from the January 2009 issue of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. For now it is available free online:
Johnson C, Green B. Submitting manuscripts to biomedical journals: Common errors and helpful solutions. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2009 Jan;32(1):1-12.
This article reviews common, but avoidable, errors that authors may make when submitting to a health care–focused, biomedical journal (eg, chiropractic, medicine, nursing, and physical therapy). As editors, we offer suggestions for improving the quality of manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals, provide suggestions for how to avoid making errors, and recommend effective writing and submission strategies. Read the full abstract: PubMed Record
Green BN, Johnson CD. How to write a case report for publication. J Chiropr Med 2006; 5(2):72-82.
Green BM, Johnson CD, Adams A. Writing narrative literature reviews for peer-reviewed journals: Secrets of the trade. J Chiropr Med 2006 Fall;5(3):101-117.
Filed under: Writing & Publishing | Comments Off
Here is an interesting article just published in PloS Medicine [Open Access]:
Background to the debate: Ghostwriting occurs when someone makes substantial contributions to a manuscript without attribution or disclosure. It is considered bad publication practice in the medical sciences, and some argue it is scientific misconduct. At its extreme, medical ghostwriting involves pharmaceutical companies hiring professional writers to produce papers promoting their products but hiding those contributions and instead naming academic physicians or scientists as the authors. To improve transparency, many editors’ associations and journals allow professional medical writers to contribute to the writing of papers without being listed as authors provided their role is acknowledged. This debate examines how best to tackle ghostwriting in the medical literature from the perspectives of a researcher, an editor, and the professional medical writer.
See also Ghost authorship in industry-initiated randomised trials
COURSE 1: Conflicts of Interest [Foundation Text]
COURSE 2: Mentoring [Foundation Text]
COURSE 3: Responsible Authorship and Peer Review [Foundation Text]
COURSE 4: Research Misconduct [Foundation Text]
COURSE 5: Collaborative Science [Foundation Text]
COURSE 6: Data Acquisition and Management [Foundation Text]
Every course includes the following components: Introduction; Case Study; Q & A; Annotated Case; Foundation Text; Resources; Conclusion
Credits: This site was produced by the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching & Learning (CCNMTL) in collaboration with the Columbia University Center for Bioethics and the Columbia University Office for Responsible Conduct of Research.
If you are interested in keeping up with what people are talking about in medical education, here is a selection of blogs and listservs to which you may wish to subscribe:
- Alliance for Continuing Medical Education Mailing Lists
- The big medical news archive
- The Carlat Psychiatry Blog: Supporting the Search for Honesty in Medical Education
- CE_Current_Awareness [Don't you love people who cite themselves?]
- CME Linkages
- Conversations in CME Podcasts of conversations with some major players in CME
- DR-ED: An Electronic Discussion Group for Medical Educators [OMERAD: Office of Medical Education Research and Development, Michigan State University]
- face2face [MeetingsNet blog by Sue Pelletier; not medical, but fun to read]
- GEA Sections Listserves [AAMC: UGME, GME, CME and RIME]
- Med-Ed Listserv [AAMC]
- Medical Education Blog [University of Saskatchewan]
- STFM [Society of Teachers of Family Medicine] Listserves
- CataList: The official catalog of LISTSERV lists
The following editorial and commentary were published in the November 10 issue of BMJ. [Full text is available free online.] (I can never hear the word plagiarize without thinking of Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky.)
See also Writing & Publishing: all posts
Godlee F. Plagiarism and punishment [editorial]. BMJ 2007;335
Extract: Plagiarism is one of the three high crimes of research fraud. The US Office for Research Integrity (ORI) puts it up there with the big boys, fabrication and falsification, in its definition of research misconduct (http://ori.dhhs.gov). Some have argued that the definition should extend to lesser crimes such as undeclared conflict of interest and duplicate publication, but to my knowledge no one has questioned that theft of another person’s work is fraud.
How big a problem is plagiarism? The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) lists 18 cases of alleged plagiarism reviewed from 1998 to 2005 (www.publicationethics.org.uk), but as with research fraud generally this is likely to be a substantial underestimate of the true extent. Detection has been difficult in the past, but the internet, which has made plagiarism much easier to commit, is also making it easier to detect, as Michael Cross explains …
Cross M. Policing plagiarism. BMJ 2007;335:963-964
In the internet age, copying someone else’s work can be as simple as clicking and dragging a computer mouse over a few plausible paragraphs. By the same token, the world wide web makes fraud easy to detect. Over the past decade, a range of software products has become available for detecting plagiarism, especially by students. However, experts are questioning whether Britain’s strategy for detecting academic fraud is the right one for catching the most damaging types of misconduct.
There is no evidence that plagiarism is becoming more prevalent in research. But there is no doubt that plagiarism happens, perhaps because of mindsets acquired in education.1 The Committee on Publication Ethics, an international forum for editors of peer reviewed journals, has discussed “30 or 40″ alleged cases of research plagiarism over the past 10 years, says its chairman, Harvey Marcovitch.
Sections: Defining plagiarism; Relying on a single tool; Alternative tools; Bespoke work
From Philip E. Bourne, Editor-in-Chief of PLoS Computational Biology, here is a collection of editorials intended to provide a quick, concentrated guide for mastering some of the professional challenges research scientists face in their careers. All PLoS (Public Library of Science) journals are Open Access journals. This page updated December 10, 2007.
- Erren TC, Cullen P, Erren M, Bourne PE (2007) Ten Simple Rules for Doing Your Best Research, According to Hamming. PLoS Comput Biol 3(10): e21
- u J, Bourne PE (2007) Ten Simple Rules for Graduate Students. PLoS Comput Biol 3(11): e229
- Erren TC, Bourne PE. Ten simple rules for a good poster presentation. PLoS Comput Biol. 2007 May 25;3(5):e102. Related Articles in PubMed
See also A field guide to biomedical meeting creatures, part 2: Poster time! Hilarious!
- Bourne PE. Ten simple rules for making good oral presentations. PLoS Comput Biol. 2007 Apr 27;3(4):e77. Related Articles in PubMed
- Vicens Q, Bourne PE. Ten simple rules for a successful collaboration. PLoS Comput Biol. 2007 Mar 30;3(3):e44. Related Articles in PubMed
- Bourne PE, Friedberg I. Ten simple rules for selecting a postdoctoral position. PLoS Comput Biol. 2006 Nov 24;2(11):e121. Related Articles in PubMed
- Bourne PE, Korngreen A. Ten simple rules for reviewers. PLoS Comput Biol. 2006 Sep 29;2(9):e110. Related Articles in PubMed
- Bourne PE, Chalupa LM. Ten simple rules for getting grants. PLoS Comput Biol. 2006 Feb;2(2):e12. Related Articles in PubMed
- Bourne PE. Ten simple rules for getting published. PLoS Comput Biol. 2005 Oct;1(5):e57. Related Articles in PubMed
Here is a selection of articles on writing, taken from the chiropractic literature. Included are links to the Index to Chiropractic Literature, as well as links to PubMed, journal records or DOIs. See also Where should I publish my article? ; Submitting manuscripts to biomedical journals: Common errors and helpful solutions
Budgell B. Commentary: Guidelines to the writing of case studies. JCCA 2008; 52(4):199-204.
Introduction: Case studies are an invaluable record of the clinical practices of a profession. While case studies cannot provide specific guidance for the management of successive patients, they are a record of clinical interactions which help us to frame questions for more rigorously designed clinical studies. Case studies also provide valuable teaching teaching material, demonstrating both classical and unusual presentations which may confront the practitioner. Quite obviously, since the overwhelming majority of clinical interactions occur in the field, not in teaching or research facilities, it falls to the field practitioner to record and pass on their experiences. However, field practitioners generally are not well-practised in writing for publication, and so may hesitate to embark on the task of carrying a case study to publication. These guidelines are intended to assist the relatively novice writer – practitioner or student – in efficiently navigating the relatively easy course to publication of a quality case study. Guidelines are not intended to be proscriptive, and so throughout this document we advise what authors “may” or “should” do, rather than what they “must” do. Authors may decide that the particular circumstances of their case study justify digression from our recommendations.
Green BN, Johnson CD. How to write a case report for publication. J Chiropr Med 2006; 5(2):72-82.
Objective: This paper describes how and why to write a case report for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
Methods: PubMed, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), and the Index to Chiropractic Literature were searched from 2000 through September 2006 using the following search terms: case report, authorship, peer review, and manuscript. Relevant manuscripts were retrieved and the results were used to update a previous narrative overview of the literature.
Discussion: Commensurate with the increased use of evidence-based health care and recent changes in publication requirements, new standards are expected of case reports. Case reports should present new information to the literature and be written succinctly. The types of case reports available are discussed. Steps for preparing a case report are described based upon the current available literature.
Conclusion: Case reports are important contributions to the health sciences literature. Proper preparation of this study design is necessary in order for it to be published. A self-evaluation check sheet for authors is included to assist in the writing process. [Appendix A. Case Report Check Sheet]
ICL Journal Link
Johnson CD, Green BN. Helpful hints: Writing effective letters to the editor [editorial]. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2006; 29(6):415-416.
Abstract: Letters to the editor serve an important role in postpublication review by maintaining the integrity of evidence. The act of critical appraisal of the literature, an important step of evidence-based practice, may generate letters to the editor. Letters may serve to
(1) identify errors or deficiencies and make a correction to the literature,
(2) point out alternative theories or additional information not contained in the original article,
(3) offer new, additional, or counterevidence to that of the original article, and/or
(4) hold authors and journals accountable for their publications. Through letters, the readership helps to strengthen the evidence base. Recommendations for writing and assessing a letter to the editor are included in this editorial.
ICL DOI Link
Anwar R. How to write a case report. Student BMJ 2004; 12:60-61.
Rahij Anwar and colleagues give advice on the practical details of writing case reports.
Young M. Writing for the peer-reviewed biomedical literature: Part I. The why and the wherefore. Clin Chiropr 2003; 6(3-4):144-150.
Abstract: Within the chiropractic literature, there is under-representation of clinical observation, small-scale trials and pilot studies. This can have an adverse effect in framing the research questions of larger projects. It can also lead to a diminution in the perceived significance of research by clinicians. In many countries, graduate education programmes are seeking to redress this balance by including training in writing for biomedical journals in their content. Continuing professional development portfolios are also increasingly recognizing the importance of such work, both to the professional and to the profession. This two-part article seeks to outline the reasons why clinical papers are important and offer advice as to the best way in which to translate clinical observation and deduction into a publishable format.
ICL DOI Link
Young M. Writing for the peer-reviewed biomedical literature: Part II. The how and the when. Clin Chiropr 2004; 7(2):90-99.
Abstract: Within the chiropractic literature, there is under-representation of clinical observation, small-scale trials and pilot studies. This can have an adverse effect in framing the research questions of larger projects. It can also lead to a diminution in the perceived significance of such research by clinicians. In many countries, graduate education programmes are seeking to redress this balance by including training in writing for biomedical journals. Continuing professional development portfolios are also increasingly recognising the importance of such work, both to the professional and to the profession. This two-part article seeks to outline the reasons why clinical papers are important and offer advice as to the best way in which to translate clinical observation and deduction into a publishable format. This second part deals with the technical aspects of creating a journal submission and the increasingly diverse formats in which submission can be made. Again, emphasis is placed on the formats most appropriate to practicing chiropractors working in a clinical setting.
ICL DOI Link
Green BN, Johnson CD. Writing narrative literature reviews for peer-reviewed journals: secrets of the trade. J Sports Chiropr & Rehabil 2001; 15(1):5-16.
Objective: To describe and discuss the process used to write a narrative review of the literature for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The JSCR wishes to standardize its publication of narrative overviews of the literature to increase their objectivity.
Background: In the past decade numerous changes in research methodology pertaining to reviews of the literature have occurred. These changes necessitate authors of review articles to be familiar with current standards in the publication process.
Methods: Narrative overview of the literature synthesizing the findings of literature retrieved from searches of computerized databases, hand searches, and authoritative texts.
Discussion: An overview of the use of three types of reviews of the literature is resented. Step by step instructions for how to conduct and write a narrative overview utilizing a ‘best-evidence synthesis’ approach are discussed, starting with appropriate preparatory work and ending with how to create proper illustrations. Several resources for creating reviews of the literature are presented and a narrative overview critical appraisal worksheet is included. A bibliography of other useful reading is presented in an appendix.
Conclusion: Narrative overviews can be a valuable contribution to the literature if prepared properly. New and experienced authors wishing to write a narrative overview should find this article useful in constructing such a paper and carrying out the research process. It is hoped that this article will stimulate scholarly dialog amongst colleagues about this research design and other complex literature review methods.
ICL Full Text
Green BN, Johnson CD. Writing patient case reports for peer-reviewed journals: Secrets of the trade. J Sports Chiropr & Rehabil 2000; 14(3):51-59.
Objective: To describe and discuss the process used to write a case report for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
Methods: Narrative review of the literature.
Discussion: The importance for case reports is presented as well as the explanation of how to write them in a standardized format. Steps in preparing a case report are described and discussed starting with selecting a title and concluding with preparing appropriate illustrations. Conclusion: Case reports are important contributions to the health sciences literature. Proper preparation of this research design is necessary in order for it to be published in a credible manner.