Tag Archives: Committee On Publication Ethics

BioMedCentral Admitted to Scientific Fraud, Cover-Up of Vaccine-Autism Link By Pulling Brian Hooker’s Reanalysis

Maria Kowalczuk, “Research Integrity Manager” for Springer Nature – overseer of BMC

In the below 2016 email to Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)’s Iraxte Puebla, Dr. Maria Kowalczuk revealed that her publisher BioMedCentral committed scientific misconduct. In particular, she stated they deleted Dr. Brian Hooker’s MMR-autism reanalysis because his results implicated vaccines in causing autism. She also fabricated non-existent conflict of interest policies that he “broke.” And finally, she lied that his paper was subjected to post-publication “peer review” when it was summarily retracted after they demanded he conduct multiple studies!

Despite all that, Committee on Publication Ethics would later state that BioMedCentral “acted appropriately.” COPE’s chair is an adviser of the “research integrity” committee that Kowalczuk oversees.

Dear Iratxe,

Thank you for bringing this second complaint to our attention. We have reviewed our handling of this case and related correspondence again and we are of the view that BioMed Central has adhered to COPE Code of Conduct and COPE guidelines. As this complaint has not been brought by the author himself we are limited in what information can be divulged to a third party.

With regard to the specific questions from COPE, we provide a summary of our handling of the case below:

  • The article was received on April 17th 2014 and  published on August 27th 2014 in the journal Translational Neurodegeneration.

The article reanalysed CDC data and claimed to show a positive association between MMR vaccination and the risk of autism in Afro-American boys.

  • A reader flagged that there were undeclared competing interests related to the article: the author, Dr Hooker, was on the Board of Directors for Focus Autism which supports the belief that MMR vaccine causes autism.  We were concerned enough about the allegations and the content to remove it from the public domain immediately because of the potential harm to public health, and posted this message in its place as a temporary measure:

This article has been removed from the public domain because of serious concerns about the validity of its conclusions. The journal and publisher believe that its continued availability may not be in the public interest. Definitive editorial action will be pending further investigation.

The author was informed of this plan before we removed the article.

  • Our investigation concluded that the author did have an undeclared competing interest. We also found that the peer reviewers were also likely to have undeclared competing interests.
  • On August 29th, we removed the above notice,  reinstated the article and published this expression of concern:

The Publisher of this article [1] has serious concerns about the validity of its conclusions because of possible undeclared competing interests of the author and peer reviewers. The matter is undergoing investigation. In the meantime, readers are advised to treat the reported conclusions of this study with caution.

Further action will be taken, if appropriate, once our investigation is complete.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4150057/

The author was informed before we posted this Expression of Concern.

  • We obtained a further, independent expert peer review of the article because we were concerned about the original peer reviewers’ potential competing interests. That further peer reviewer reported concerns about the statistical methods used. We decided to retract the ­­­­­article with this notice on 3rd October 2014:

The Editor and Publisher regretfully retract the article [1] as there were undeclared competing interests on the part of the author which compromised the peer review process. Furthermore, post-publication peer review raised concerns about the validity of the methods and statistical analysis, therefore the Editors no longer have confidence in the soundness of the findings. We apologise to all affected parties for the inconvenience caused.

http://translationalneurodegeneration.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/2047-9158-3-22

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4128611/

The author was given an opportunity to respond to all the concerns raised and was informed before we retracted the article.

Our actions were in accordance with the COPE guidelines.

 

We provide a point by point response to Mr Crosby’s specific points below:

“Publishers should work with journal editors to:

  • Set journal policies appropriately and aim to meet those policies, particularly with respect to:
    – Editorial independence

All the actions were taken in consultation with and with the explicit agreement of the Editor-in-Chief of Translational Neurodegeneration. Editorial independence was not undermined at any stage.

– Research ethics, including confidentiality, consent, and the special requirements for human and animal research

None of the above were raised as issues in the course of the investigation.
– Authorship

No authorship issues were raised in the course of the investigation.
– Transparency and integrity (for example, conflicts of interest, research funding, reporting standards

We took action to ensure integrity of the published record in light of the concerns regarding conflicts of interest and the methods and statistical analysis that came to light after publication of the article. We acted in a transparent way throughout the process.


– Peer review and the role of the editorial team beyond that of the journal editor

External post publication peer review, that involved the editor, was conducted when concerns were raised about the article.
– Appeals and complaints

  • Communicate journal policies (for example, to authors, readers, peer reviewers)
    • Review journal policies periodically, particularly with respect to new recommendations from the COPE
    • Code of Conduct for Editors and the COPE Best Practice Guidelines
    • Maintain the integrity of the academic record”

BioMed Central policies comply with COPE recommendations and are accessible on our website. We regularly review issues that might affect our polices (sometimes in collaboration with COPE) and update our policies as necessary. Our Editors are required to follow our Code of Conduct for Editors and COPE Best Practice Guidelines. BioMed Central has a team dedicated to dealing with research integrity issues and maintaining the integrity of the scientific record.

Please do let us know if you need any further information or clarification.

With best wishes,

Maria

 

Maria Kowalczuk, PhD 
Biology Editor,

Research Integrity Group 

BioMed Central

Floor 6, 236 Gray’s Inn Road
London, WC1X 8HB

+44 20 3192 2000 (tel)               

+44 20 3192 2010 (fax)

E-mail: Maria.Kowalczuk@biomedcentral.com

Demand Withdrawal of William Thompson’s Bogus Autism-Caused-Vaccination “Reanalysis”!

6

The effect has to occur after the cause (and if there is an expected delay between the cause and expected effect, then the effect must occur after that delay). – Sir Austin Bradford Hill, Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, 1965

It might be the most bizarre twist ever to have happened in this weird saga where the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has already told some of the most brazen lies in trying to dupe people into believing vaccines don’t cause autism. It was weird enough for them to claim there was no evidence mercury in vaccines causes harm when they had proof. And now to refute the fact that children have developed autism after vaccination, the CDC is now claiming that it is the autism that is causing the vaccination. Yes, you read that right. And that person apparently pushing that view for CDC will be none other than the federal agency’s so-called vaccine whistleblower: Dr. William Thompson, who has now been “handled.” Needless to say, calling for the withdrawal of such an execrable, egg-laid-the-chicken report is in order. Relevant contact information concerning Thompson, the journal likely to publish his paper and the Committee on Publication Ethics are all provided at the bottom of this post.

While the CDC has not yet made any formal announcements, their excuse has already been scooped by one prominent former CDC adviser. In an article published by Hollywood Reporter, millionaire vaccine industrialist Paul Offit made the below attempt at criticizing “Vaxxed” – the documentary film about Thompson’s 2004 CDC study where the authors buried evidence of measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccination causing autism in African-American boys:

The real explanation for Vaxxed’s “revelation” isn’t conspiracy or hidden data; it’s something else. When compared with their Caucasian counterparts, African-American boys in Atlanta in 1994 were under-vaccinated. In order to qualify for autism-support programs, this subset of under-vaccinated children with autism had to get vaccinated. In other words, it wasn’t that MMR had caused autism; it was that the diagnosis of autism had caused them to get MMR. Not surprisingly, this is never explained in the film.

Never mind that African-American children are diagnosed much later and that the diagnoses would have likely been given after age three anyway. Never mind that the significant risks found were in children who received the vaccine in the 12-18 month age group, when no one would have had an autism diagnosis. For the phenomenon that Offit described to occur, one would expect to see a diminished odds of vaccination for those ages among black autistic children compared to vaccination after age three, not an increased risk. In fact, that was probably why the race effect was yanked from the paper and thrown in the garbage in the first place. A comment under Offit’s article seeking to point that out was removed from the thread, even though it was part of an ongoing conversation with a CDC-tied attorney.

But worst of all, this claim will not be confined to Offit’s review. It will also be made in a published “reanalysis” of the CDC’s study due to be published next month, authored by none other than the very coauthor of the original study who raised the alarm in the first place: “whistleblower” William Thompson. According to his initial contact Dr. Brian Hooker, Thompson has been “handled.” He is expected to publish his “reanalysis” with a researcher named Michael Blank – who had advised the MMR vaccine maker GlaxoSmithKline. Among the promises Thompson has been allegedly bribed with are a huge bonus and his own autism research foundation. Not surprisingly, having a scientist claim that vaccination was caused by autism diagnoses likely made after vaccination instead of admitting that vaccines cause autism comes with a steep price. It’s just too bad that that price will also be the unnecessary harm to countless more children. To add insult to injury, Offit will apparently write a commentary accompanying this awful work.

Please write and call Dr. Thompson at the following numbers and email address and tell him to withdraw his “reanalysis” and that he will face ethical complaints against him due to the ridiculous nature of his claims.

wct2@cdc.gov

(404) 498-3845 (office)

(404) 226-8428 (cell)

Also contact the journal publishing his paper as well and tell them withdraw his paper and that they too will face ethics complaints for publishing it. Here is the email for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, where the “reanalysis” will likely be published. You should let the journal know that it too will face an ethical complaint for publishing Thompson’s analysis and should withdraw it from press: pnas@nas.edu, Phone: 202-334-2679.

Also make a complaint to the Committee on Publication Ethics. Let them know you complained to both the author of the piece and to PNAS: http://publicationethics.org/contact-us

Brian Hooker’s Findings Are Confirmed By CDC’s Results

ORtable

By Jake Crosby

Above is a table of omitted results from the original CDC study of age at MMR vaccination according to a video put out by the Autism Media Channel, and below is a table of results from Brian Hooker’s reanalysis of that study – since retracted by the publisher in breach of policies it claims to follow. In particular, note the boxed results of each showing risk from MMR vaccination before age 36 months in African-American children – both are significant, and the strength and precision of each are almost identical to one another.

hookerresults

This would eviscerate critics’ claims that Brian Hooker’s findings are invalid because his reanalysis did not employ the same statistical methods as the original CDC study. Within Dr. Hooker’s paper itself, it is also stated that his “results were also confirmed using a conditional logistic regression design similar to the DeStefano et al. [14] (CDC) study.” Another common criticism of Brian Hooker’s paper that it did not account for low birth weight children is easily refuted by another table of results showing a greater than two-fold risk for African-American boys even when low birth weight children are excluded.

Yet Dr. Hooker’s paper remains retracted in breach of the guidelines the publisher claims to follow when considering retractions. Even before the retraction, the publisher BioMed Central (BMC) had deleted the paper online in breach of its own policies on article removal. BMC has never offered any explanation concerning these issues in response to emails from Autism Investigated. Also yet to comment in response to Autism Investigated’s inquiries about the retraction is the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), whose guidelines BMC claims to follow when considering retractions and breached when it retracted Dr. Hooker’s study.

Meanwhile, CDC is pretending that its own study results were different from Dr. Hooker’s when they were clearly not. In a statement to ABC News insisting “There was no cover-up,” CDC said of Dr. Hooker’s findings, “it is hard to speculate why his results differed from CDC’s.”

Except they didn’t.

Jake Crosby is editor of Autism Investigated. He is a 2011 graduate of Brandeis University with a Bachelor of Arts in both History and Health: Science, Society and Policy and a 2013 graduate of The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services with a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology. He currently attends the University of Texas School of Public Health where he is studying for a Ph.D. in Epidemiology.

BioMed Central Breaks Policy by Retracting Brian Hooker’s Study

retraction guidelines

By Jake Crosby

Above is a summary of the reasons that justify a possible paper retraction, according to Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)’s retraction guidelines that are also used by BioMed Central (BMC). However, none of the above reasons were even mentioned in BMC journal Translational Neurodegeneration’s below justification for retracting Dr. Brian Hooker’s study, “Measles-mumps-rubella vaccination timing and autism among young african american boys: a reanalysis of CDC data”:hookerretraction

 

Clear evidence of unreliability, duplication, plagiarism and unethical research are all valid considerations for retracting a paper, but “concerns” are not according to the very retraction guidelines BMC says it follows. Such considerations do not include “undeclared competing interests” either. Although alerting readers to such non-disclosures may serve as a purpose of a retraction according to COPE, they are not justification for a retraction.

BMC’s retraction of Dr. Hooker’s paper is only the latest of policy breaches by the publisher after it deleted his article from its website in breach of policy on the permanency of articles. Citing a then-pending investigation, BMC refused to comment on that violation when contacted by Autism Investigated. Now with the paper retracted in breach of yet more policies supposedly followed by BMC, the publisher has even more explaining to do.

Jake Crosby is editor of Autism Investigated. He is a 2011 graduate of Brandeis University with a Bachelor of Arts in both History and Health: Science, Society and Policy and a 2013 graduate of The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services with a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology. He currently attends the University of Texas School of Public Health where he is studying for a Ph.D. in Epidemiology.