The editor-in-chief received an email from author A regarding a recently published corrigendum by authors BCD, one of whom (author C) is a member of the journal’s editorial board. In this email, author A claimed that the corrigendum, which corrected some errors in an earlier article by BCD, was based on illicit use of privileged information, obtained by two of the authors (B and D) who were reviewers on two different versions of a critique submitted by author A, which pointed out these errors. In the email, author A requested that the corrigendum be retracted and that the journal “publish an editorial note that sets the record straight”.
The sequence of events was as follows. Author A’s critique was rejected by the handling editor, based in part on negative reviews and in part on the grounds that it was far too long and contained redundant and unnecessary material. One reviewer (B) invited a revised version. A second round of review led to the suggestion by reviewer D, that BCD publish an erratum acknowledging the errors uncovered by the submission, together with a further comment from author A. The handling editor in turn proposed that author A and authors BCD submit a joint manuscript acknowledging the errors and other points. Author A refused, on the basis that the information that authors BCD obtained was privileged, and therefore could not be appropriated. Author A informed the editor that the critique had now been submitted to another journal.
Authors BCD then proposed submitting a corrigendum, but the handling editor informed authors BCD of author A’s objection along with the admonition that authors BCD’s “only option is to wait for the critique to appear in print and publish a response to that”.
About 1 year later, authors BCD submitted the corrigendum, suggesting that sufficient time had elapsed to allow author A to publish the critique, and that “This seemed to us to balance the interests of author A against the ethical requirement to promptly correct errors that we are aware of in our published paper”. The original handling editor had since left the journal but recommended publication, and the recommendation was accepted by the editor-in-chief.
Authors BCD’s corrigendum acknowledged that the errors were “called to our attention” by author A. When notified of author A’s email complaint, authors BCD proposed to submit a second corrigendum to supersede the first one, and would cite author A’s critique, which had now appeared in another journal. This proposal was rejected by author A on the grounds that authors BCD had appropriated author A’s ideas.
There are several complications.
1. Author A’s manuscript was a direct critique of authors BCD’s earlier article, but author A did not consult with authors BCD before submitting it. However, author A nominated author B as a potential referee.
2. Authors BCD did not inform author A that, despite authors A’s objection, they later submitted the corrigendum, nor did the handling editor at the time inform author A that the corrigendum had been submitted and later that it had been accepted.
3. Although author A informed the handling editor that the critique had been submitted elsewhere, author A did not apprise the editor of its progress.
4. Authors BCD did consult with the editors of the journal at each step.
What is the appropriate balance between two conflicting ethical principles: the need for authors BCD to correct an error in their work versus the need to maintain the confidentiality of privileged information?
Is retraction of the corrigendum warranted?
Is authors BCD’s proposal of a second corrigendum a reasonable solution?
Are there other actions that should be taken?
The Forum suggested that an addition could be made to the correction, citing author A's published work. The journal should take some of the blame for not finding an acceptable solution for the publication of author A's original critique and perhaps issue an apology to that effect
The Editors are grateful for COPE's advice, which they followed. An addendum was published which (1) cited author A's published work and (2) expressed regret that the editors were unable to agree with author A on an acceptable solution for the publication of A's original critique in the journal.
A scientific paper was submitted in January 2011. After initial assessment by the journal’s editor-in chief, it was allocated to one of the co-editors. By chance, the co-editor had reviewed the manuscript for another journal only a few weeks before. The manuscript had been rejected by the previous journal for a number of methodological flaws.
The resubmitted manuscript contained significant changes to both methodology and results apparently correcting the flaws noted in the previous reviewers’ comments. Realistically, these changes could have only been possible if the study had been repeated but as only a few weeks had elapsed since the previous rejection, the editor suspected fabrication of results.
The editor contacted the editor-in-chief to highlight a possible case of misconduct. The manuscript was rejected primarily because it was not of a sufficient standard to merit publication and also because of concerns regarding the possible falsification of results.
In his letter to the author, the editor-in-chief asked for an explanation of the differences between the two manuscripts. The reply claimed that additional patients had been recruited. Of note, the demographic details (including age, height and weight) in the revised paper were identical to the previous submission, making this explanation unlikely.
In view of the unsatisfactory response from the lead author, a letter was sent to the dean of the faculty of medicine at the author’s institution but no reply has so far been received. Information regarding the academic department in this university has been difficult to obtain as their website is unhelpful so it is not clear if this letter was received by those in authority. Consequently, after several months and following discussion with the journal’s publisher, it was decided not to pursue this enquiry further.
Recently, another manuscript from the same department has been submitted. The co-author of the previous paper is listed among the five authors of this new submission. It is not clear, however, if this author was complicit in the previous case of alleged misconduct. The lead author of the previous paper is not included.
This paper has been reviewed and is again of a poor standard that does not warrant publication. There is, however, no reason to suspect misconduct with this current study.
The editor-in-chief has so far not responded to the authors regarding publication but has asked for the contact details of the head of the academic department from the lead author. An email reply included a contact name. A letter to the academic lead asking for clarification of the previous submission has been sent. A reply is awaited.
At present it is impossible to establish whether the previous misconduct is the result of a single rogue researcher or an institutional problem with research governance. The failure to receive an adequate explanation may simply be a problem with contacting somebody in authority who can investigate the conduct of research within this department. It is however, difficult to believe that a co-author of a paper where misconduct almost certainly occurred was not aware of such behaviour.
To avoid a similar situation in the future, the Forum advised the editor to tighten the journal’s instructions to authors and request the contact details of all authors, not just the corresponding author, on submission of a paper. The Forum agreed that it is difficult to deal with the second paper until the issues with the first paper have been resolved, particularly as there is no evidence of misconduct in relation to the second paper. The advice was to contact the ethics committee or institutional review board in relation to the first paper, or if a response from the institution is not forthcoming, consider contacting any professional bodies the author might be a member of or the funding body. The editor might consider contacting any collaborating institutions listed on the second paper.
Despite a further letter to the university in question, the editor has not yet received a reply. The editor was given the email address of the head of the academic department from the author of the second submission. No response has been forthcoming. The editor is not aware of other bodies who could be contacted to shed light on the matter. The research project was funded internally.
The journal’s Guide for Authors has been updated and authors are made aware that extra information can be requested by the editors. Should the journal receive further submissions from this institution, they will receive thorough peer review and if there is any doubt as to the validity of the data, the journal will seek clarification from the authors.
Last March we accepted a paper written by a post-doctoral fellow (PD) and an assistant professor (AP). The work was done by PD in AP's laboratory; PD has now moved on (to another country, in fact). Soon after the manuscript was sent to production, AP sent an email asking to delay production of the manuscript because AP was worried that there may be an ‘error’ in the manuscript that might require ‘some adjustments’. Months passed with no further word from AP. A few weeks ago, I wrote to AP regarding an update. Last week, AP replied, asking to remove his/her name from the manuscript because AP and PD “... have an insurmountable scientific disagreement over how the data for this study should be tabulated and presented”.
AP called yesterday to provide some additional background. AP believes that PD made some questionable decisions with respect to the data and AP is unable to replicate the findings in his/her own analyses of the data.
AP's university looked into the matter and found insufficient evidence to pursue a claim of scientific misconduct. According to AP, PD interprets this to mean that PD has done nothing wrong.
I have not yet said anything to (or heard from) PD. I am certainly not comfortable in moving forward with this publication. Yet, without knowing more details and without hearing PD's side of the issue, it would seem unfair to PD to withdraw our decision to publish the paper. And, anticipating what PD might say ("I did everything correctly"), I find it hard to imagine how we can adjudicate the issue.
The editor updated the Forum by telling them that PD had provided him with a copy of the email from AP’s institutional panel saying that after careful review of the evidence, the panel unanimously reached the conclusion that allegations of misconduct against PD were not merited and no further proceedings were warranted. Also, AP emailed the editor and requested that the manuscript be withdrawn. AP continues to insist that s/he cannot back up the data but refuses to say why.
The Forum agreed that for the editor to make a decision on whether or not to publish the paper, he needs more facts. The Forum suggested the editor should contact the institution and ask them for the details of the allegations. The editor is perfectly within his rights to push the institution for this information. It is critical for the editor to know why AP wants the paper withdrawn before he can make a decision. Another suggestion was for the editor to respond to AP asking her for her scientific reasons as to why the paper should be withdrawn.
The editor contacted AP’s university for additional information regarding its inquiry but was provided with nothing useful. In essence, the editor was told that the inquiry had found no evidence for scientific misconduct.
At this point, with no firm evidence of misconduct, the journal was inclined to move forward with the paper. The editor told AP that she had one last chance to provide specific details regarding the nature of her disagreement with PD. It turns out that it involved two data points (out of 22) in a supplementary analysis. AP and PD could not agree on the value of those data points.
The editor then suggested to AP and PD that they re-do the supplementary analysis, based on the 20 scores that were not in dispute; if the pattern reported originally was confirmed in the new analysis, then the journal would publish the paper.
The editor has just received the revised manuscript reporting these new analyses; it looks as if the results are not affected by the disputed data points so that the journal will be able to publish the paper.
An article was submitted for publication. This was a survey of research activity in a specialist area and included, among other things, research funding amounts from each institution. This led to a sort of 'league table'. The information was provided by the responding director of the specialty area or head of school/research group of each institution. The cover letter stated this is for research purposes. No particular ethics approval was sought for the study as it was based on staff/professionals and most were known to the principal author.
The question is whether these data on amount of funding are private or public. While grant income data can be available in funders' websites/reports or the institutional/departmental websites, certainly it exists in Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) reports that are available to the public for past research, this may not be the case for all research grants (ie, industry grants or private donations).
Is research grant income classified as private data (in which case, consent is needed) or it is public data and the cover letter to the study means that returning completed questionnaires implies consent?
The Forum suggested that although the authors may have a responsibility to the individual researchers at the institutions who provided the data, this case appears to relate to institutional data. As there are no individual data, breaching any privacy laws is not an issue. There was some concern from the Forum that the individuals may face disciplinary action by their superiors for supplying the data, but all agreed that this was not really an ethical issue, and there is no ethical principle to protect the institution. Most believed that it did not appear to be a very well-designed study and perhaps the editor should talk to the authors about anonymising their data and broadening the message of the paper. The editor might also like to draw their attention to the potential obligation the authors have to the individual researchers. However, no one suggested that the paper should not be published
The authors were allowed to continue with the submission and the paper is now undergoing peer review.
In a nutshell, if someone has lost their raw data, workup data and laboratory books (so that in effect their data cannot be checked/queried/verified/substantiated) what would be the implications of submitting his/her results to a journal? I have a very clear view. I would not do it. However, others seem to think that if you cannot prove that the results are wrong, then they must be accepted on trust. I am hoping that you could point me towards some official ruling.
The peer review process would not be of any help in such a situation as it is unlikely that reviewers would ask to see the original calculations or even imagine a story of such careless custody of data.
The Forum was unanimous in the view that if an editor is made aware that the raw data are missing, they would not publish the paper. However, the Forum agreed that it is not practical to ask authors to submit their raw data, although some journals do ask for certain types of data to be deposited in a public database and some journals ask for original digital images. But if an editor asks an author for raw data and the author cannot produce the data, then the editor should not publish the paper. The Forum did however caution that you should ask the author how the data were lost, as there are some genuine cases of data being lost after a fire or flood.
This query refers to a clinical trial comparing two forms of treatment which has since been published in another journal.
I originally received this manuscript in 2009. One of the referees alerted me to the fact that the data looked strange. Furthermore, the test and controls groups were perfectly distributed, which is almost impossible. Along with the usual requests for modifications, I asked for the ethics approval letter to establish if the trial had been registered or approved somewhere and also expressed the concerns to the authors.
In the revised submission, I received a letter signed by one of the authors stating that the study was discussed at a departmental meeting and it was established that there was no need for ethical approval. According to my understanding of the matter, running a clinical trial in my country without ethics approval is a criminal offense. The authors also acknowledged that severe mistakes had been made to some of the measurements but did not admit to any wrongdoing.
I asked the authors for a file with some of the images from their study and the clinical data for each individual case. Authors who submit to our journal agree to make the original data available upon request during either peer review or later. The paper was withdrawn by the authors.
In the paper recently published in the other journal, the senior author as well as an assistant professor from the same institution listed as authors in the original submission that I handled no longer appear on the list of authors. Two additional authors are now listed. I originally did not pursue the matter when the paper was withdrawn from consideration in my journal as I understood that the authors had realised that there was something wrong. On publication in a different journal, however, I was alerted by the original referee that the paper that was withdrawn was now published.
I contacted the editor of the other journal who did not seem as concerned as we are with such possible misconduct. Essentially the complexity lies in the triangle between two journals and two institutions as well as in the possibility that two aspects may be wrong: the ethics and the data. The change in authorship for the same manuscript in the two submissions is also significant. Even though the paper was withdrawn from my journal, should I pursue the matter with the relevant officers of the two institutions involved?
The Forum agreed that the editor does have a duty to follow-up the case, even though the paper was withdrawn from his journal.
The editor should contact the ethics committee and/or the institution, and copy in the authors so that they are aware of what the editor is doing. The editor should send the ethics committee a copy of the paper and ask them if they approved the study. If they say they did not approve the study, then the editor should request that they investigate the matter. The editor should also raise the question of the change in authorship with the institution.
The editor should try and involve the other editor if possible.
Another suggestion was to write a letter to the other journal, as an author, raising the issues of the unusually smooth data and also comment on the apparent lack of ethics committee approval.
Acting on the advice from COPE, I contacted the editor of the journal that published the article. The answer was as follows: “I welcome any opportunity to collaborate to reduce scientific misconduct. With that said, the practical actions become more challenging. Perhaps if we can discuss this in person, we can define some practical steps to get started. We investigated the human subjects ethical review for the paper you identified, and the responses were acceptable. Although I have worked closely with ethical review boards in my country, you are certainly more knowledgeable than I about the details in your country. The practical details always make me nervous.”
Apparently, the journal found the ethics review acceptable and in the response it is apparent that no further follow-up is planned.
At this stage, contacting the ethics committees of the two institutions involved will be my next step. This is very delicate as this has already been done by the other journal (I am not sure if the ethics committee or the authors were contacted).
How should I proceed? Should the editor of the other journal be copied in on the correspondence? To whom should my letter be addressed—all authors from both versions of the papers or only those of the version that was originally submitted to my journal? And in terms of the ethics committee for the two institutions, should I cite in my letter that since the case falls outside the normal best practice guidelines, I have sought input from COPE? Should I say that I contacted the other editor but failed to obtain a satisfactory response?
Advice on follow up:
The Forum agreed that this case should ideally be investigated by the institutions. The advice was for the editor to contact the institutions, outline the facts, in a non-accusatory way, and request that they carry out an investigation. There is no need to copy in the other editor. If there is no response from the institutions or their responses are unsatisfactory, the Forum again suggested writing a letter to the other journal, as a reader, raising the issues of the unusually smooth data and also comment on the apparent lack of ethics committee approval.
As the other editor seems very reluctant to pursue the case, another suggestion was to go above the editor and contact the publisher of that journal.
Our journal is attempting to encourage the adoption of a uniform standard for the reporting of population genetics data. As part of this, one of the editors of our journal has submitted a proposal requiring authors to submit their data, including raw data, to his own database. While the intention is laudable, there would appear to be a clear conflict of interest.
What can a journal do ethically to require authors to present their data in particular formats and to make their raw data publicly available?
In this situation is there a conflict of interest in the proposition that should preclude the journal adopting this policy?
What suggestions should be made to the editor concerned to resolve the conflict of interest while supporting the aims of standardised data collection and and centralised data storage and analysis.
The Forum was cautious about requiring authors to submit their data to a particular database. Some thought it was a step too far. The majority view was that instead of “requiring” authors to submit their data, it could be helpful to “encourage” them to do so and to provide information about the working of the database, but also to publish a clear conflict of interest statement about the ownership of the database when the policy is announced. The journal can only encourage authors—submission of their data should be optional and it is possible that other databases will be developed in time.
The Forum agreed that consulting with the wider community is a good idea. The editor could discuss this with the editorial board and also with other journals in the same field.
The editor noted that the comments from the Forum were very useful in guiding him to a decision on this case. The resolution was that the review article should be revised to remove any reference to future policy of the journal, and that instead an editorial piece would be written to go alongside the review, putting the case for submission of all population data to a database, such as the one described in the accompanying article. In addition, a letter would be sent to the editors of other journals in the area suggesting that they consider the benefits of such centralised data collection and suggesting that they adopt a common policy of recommending such submission.
These suggestions were passed to the associate editor/author of the review and the journal is awaiting resubmission of the amended review.
You can listen to the podcast of this case from the menu on the right
The rector at author D’s institution contacted the editor of journal A stating that they have found what they evidently consider to be serious misconduct in an article written by author D and the rector requested author D to retract the paper from journal A but author D refused to do so. The institution contacted journal A to say that the institution’s name should not be connected with the article and the institution believes that this misconduct should be known to journal A’s readers immediately. The suspected misconduct by author D was that in figure X each lane was taken from different gels that were combined together, according to the rector.
Journal A investigated the situation by communicating with author D. Journal A confirmed that the ‘representative’ western blot image of figure X in the accepted version is a composite photo comprising band images from different gels. Journal A requested author D to retract the paper. However, author D refused to do so. Instead, author D is proposing to publish an addendum containing a new gel figure with all of the controls. Author D has admitted that figure X was a composite from different gels; however, author D’s apparent view is that the data are not flawed. Journal A knows that the journal has a right to retract the paper at their discretion according to the COPE guidelines but journal A would not like to retract the paper. At the same time, journal A feels that this misconduct also should be known to readers immediately as suggested by the rector at the author’s institution.
Journal A believes this fits the situation where an ‘Expression of concern’ should be published, according to COPE’s guideline as author D’s institution and author D have not reached common ground.
Journal A replied to author D’s institution that they will publish an ‘Expression of concern’ instead of retracting the paper for now, as author D is refusing to retract the paper. Also, journal A told the rector that if author D keeps refusing to retract the paper, journal A will publish an addendum as author D requests. The rector at author D’s institution replied to journal A that they still believe that the paper should be retracted and that the institution’s name could not be associated with the article.
Following communication with the authors and the institution, journal A is now thinking it is time to publish an expression of concern anyway as the authors and institution cannot reach agreement and this should be known to readers as soon as possible.
Our question to COPE is:
Would it be appropriate to publish an expression of concern in this situation?
The Forum was told that the editor has now decided that he would like to retract the article. According to the COPE retraction guidelines, an editor can retract an article even without the author’s consent. In the current situation, it is a question of whether the editor feels that there is a mistake in just this one figure or if there are problems with other aspects of the paper. He must decide if the best way of setting the record straight is to retract or correct. If he feels that only the figure is incorrect, but the rest of the paper is reliable, then he should publish a correction. However, if the editor has more serious concerns, they he should consider retracting the paper.
The Forum suggested that as the institution is involved, the editor should ask the institution if they have conducted a formal investigation. If they have not, the editor should request that the institution conduct an investigation into this matter. The editor could base the wording of the retraction on the results of this investigation. The Forum noted that the retraction notice does not have to accuse the author of deliberate misconduct. It should simply state the facts. The retraction notice can also list which authors have agreed to the retraction and so the editor was advised to contact the other authors and ask them for an explanation and see if they are aware of the situation.
The Forum warned against publishing an expression of concern. An expression of concern should only be published if there is an unresolved, ongoing investigation or if the evidence is inconclusive. Most agreed that the evidence was strong here, but the editor needs to get the institution to investigate. Another suggestion for the future was to publish guidance to authors on how to present images when submitting a paper.
The journal published a retraction. The editor considers the case now closed.
The publishers received an email from author B about a recently published paper, which passed peer review and had been available online for about a month. In this email, author B claimed that he and another colleague C had determined the peptide sequence in question and had not published it yet, nor given permission for it to be published. He claimed that author A had access to his unpublished results as a subcontractor on one of his grants. Furthermore, author B demanded the article be retracted. Author A alerted author B to their intention to publish in 2009, to which no response was received. Author A says that the data were obtained in his laboratory in joint work with authors B and C. Author C says that the data were obtained by him and author B, and only disclosed to author A afterwards in some collaborative work.
A further complication is that both authors B and C (and notably not author A) have a patent pending on the peptide sequence in question. However, author A could not have known about this. There is clearly some communication breakdown between authors A and B, but does author B have the right to demand that author A’s paper be retracted?
The Forum agreed that this was a case of disputed authorship and it cannot be resolved by the editor. It is one person’s word against another. The advice from the Forum was to contact the authors’ institutions, and in a formal letter ask them to investigate the case. The editor should let the authors know that he is contacting their institutions and that he will abide by the decision of the institution. The editor should then publish a correction or retract the article, depending on the outcome of the institution’s investigation.
Author A has published approximately 150 original articles since ~1994, with ~100 on one particular topic. Since some of these events were up to 16 years ago, and there are no formal records from then relating to these studies, the only information we have is the memory of the editors of the affected journals in post at the time. According to their accounts, suspicions were aroused over the validity of the data, in particular the similarity between baseline data of some of the different studies. When author A was pressed to provide raw data, he stopped responding and stopped submitting papers to the specialty journals, switching to general journals where he continues to publish. The editor of one specialty journal raised concerns with the author’s institution (in another country) approximately 12 years ago; it responded saying it saw no reason to investigate further. A letter, published in one of the specialty journals in 2000 by an independent researcher, asked the question “Why are author A et al’s data so nice?”, pointing out that the probability of such results occurring by chance were infinitesimally small, but as far as we know there have been no formal investigations of author A’s work
Following an April 2010 editorial in one of the specialty journals about research fraud in general, that mentioned this particular author by name, a correspondent raised the lack of investigation into author A, stating that his update of a systematic review was being hampered by the (suspect) influence of author A’s work in this area. The current editor-in-chief of that journal contacted the current editors of seven other affected specialty journals, who until this point were largely unaware of the problem, or its extent, having not been in post at the time the papers were submitted to their journals. We have since been discussing the problem and possible courses of action. The points raised are:
(1) Regarding the older papers:
(i) the journals themselves do not have the ability to mount an investigation;
(ii) it is unlikely that an investigator, bona fide or not, will still have original data from the older studies;
(iii) it is unlikely that author A’s institution will be interested in investigating studies so old, and we think he might have moved universities since then;
(iv) currently we do not have any firm data of wrongdoing, just suspicions. Options for gathering more data include asking the original correspondent and the systematic reviewer to provide a more formal commentary, although we have not done that yet. Meanwhile, one of the editors has gathered data on all author A’s studies: there are 135 in which author A is the first author, reporting almost 12,000 randomised patients in 17 years. Most are with one of the same three co-authors. The largest group of papers (by topic) are all very similar in design, with very little variability in baseline placebo event rates, and generally similar results although the outcome measures differ and there are one or two ‘surprising’ (at best) findings. One particular drug features in 71 studies. Dropouts are hardly ever reported.
(2) Regarding the newer papers:
(i) these may be easier to investigate since the data should still exist;
(ii) we could contact the editors of the non-specialty journals (there are many, publishing just 1-2 of A’s articles each) to alert them but the problem of having only suspicions remains (compounded by the relatively large number of journals, each with a small number of papers);
(iii) we could ask a respected academic in author A’s country to make discreet enquiries of author A’s co-investigators, some of whom may not realise what is going on, or they may have concerns themselves. However, this could be a delicate situation for such a person. We would welcome COPE’s advice on how best to proceed.
The Forum was unanimous in their opinion that this should really be resolved by the researcher’s institution. Although there is no hard evidence, it was suggested that all of the journals, as a team, approach the institution and ask the institution to conduct an investigation. It was felt that this would provide a more powerful case than a single editor on his own. Meanwhile, the editor should try and gather more evidence, perhaps by contacting the ethics committees who supposedly approved these studies. The editor may then be able to determine whether in fact the studies took place as reported. The Forum advised against informing the non-specialty journals at this point as there is no real evidence at this point, so it would be difficult for them to know what to do. The Forum also suggested that the editor should advise anybody doing a meta-analysis on this subject to include a sensitivity analysis to test the effects of including the data from these studies.
The group of editors-in-chief are planning on sending a letter to the author and the institutions. The delay has been in obtaining an independent analysis of the suspect works, which so far indicates that the likelihood of fabrication is very high.
Follow up (May 2011):
The editors are still planning on sending a letter to the author and the institutions but this has been delayed pending the analysis, which has now been submitted to journal A for publication! (It concludes that fabrication is almost certain.) Meanwhile, a separate publication scandal has distracted the editors’ attention recently.
We did not investigate ethics approval since we felt that should be for the institution to investigate. My main question is what to do with the analysis that has been submitted:
(i) process as usual and publish if accepted (after discussion with/approval by the publishers); that is, let the author/institution respond if they wish (ii) present it to the suspect author (with the analyst’s permission) and remove from the publication process for the time being (iii) present it to the suspect author’s institution(s) as per (ii) (iv) present it to the suspect author and institution(s) as per (ii)
I have sought an independent statistical review of the analysis from a respected statistician but have not had a response.
Advice on follow up:
There were various views on how to proceed in this difficult case. Some agreed with sending the analysis to the institution and the suspect author, at the same time, informing them that the intention is to publish the analysis in the journal, and then see what type of response this elicits. Others disagreed and recommended treating the analysis like any other submission (despite the fact that the review was commissioned by the journal and the editor hadn’t originally intended to publish it) — send it out for peer-review and publish it in the normal way. Most agreed that a copy of the analysis should be sent to the institution, either before or after peer-review. But the paper does not need to be peer-reviewed before it is sent to the institution.
The Forum also advised consulting the journal’s legal department before going ahead with publication.