Trial By Error: COPE To BMJ Open: More Details, Please !

David Tuller


By David Tuller, DrPH.


Yesterday I reviewed an account of a publishing dilemma that had been submitted to the forum of the Committee on Publication Ethics. The COPE forum offers advice on thorny situations submitted anonymously by members. In this case, the submission appeared to be from BMJ Open and it appeared to be discussing Professor Esther Crawley’s school absence study. That study was exempted from ethical review on the specious grounds that it qualified as “service evaluation.” BMJ Open has defended its decision to publish the paper without ethical review.

I was pleasantly surprised by the COPE forum response, quoted in full below. It was reasonable, given the misinformation conveyed in the BMJ Open account. The COPE forum response also clearly justifies the concerns raised about the study’s lack of ethical review. My remarks, posted after the response, will focus on the first paragraph.


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