Trial By Error: An Open Letter To Dr Godlee About BMJ’s Ethically Bankrupt Actions


David Tuller



By David Tuller, DrPH

I have sent the following letter to Dr Fiona Godlee, editorial director of BMJ, about Archives of Disease in Childhood’s egregious decision to re-publish Bristol University’s Lightning Process trial with the original findings intact. Given the Bristol team’s flagrant methodological violations, the journal should have retracted the paper.

Failing that, Archives should have required the investigators to re-publish the paper with the initial primary outcome–school attendance at six months, which generated null results–as the final primary outcome. Dr Godlee was well aware of the issues involved, so she presumably endorsed the journal’s actions. The documented facts suggest that BMJ’s ethical compass is broken and that editors are more concerned about possible reputational damage than about the integrity of the medical literature or the health and well-being of children. That is presumably why dozens of scientists, clinicians and other experts from top academic institutions were so eager to sign this letter.


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