Another retraction of IRB-free paper from Aussie sports medicine group

There’s another retraction from the Australian researchers who failed to obtain institutional review board (IRB) approval for their studies of rugby players and footballers.

The 2010 paper, in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders — which had already retracted two other articles from the group — was titled “The effect of a sports chiropractic manual therapy intervention on the prevention of back pain, hamstring and lower limb injuries in semi-elite Australian Rules footballers: A randomized controlled trial.”

The editor of the journal had added this comment to the PDFs associated with the paper on August 3, a day after our post on the previous two retractions:

The Editor wishes to alert readers of this article [1]that an institutional investigation is ongoing into whether this study was conducted with full institutional ethics committee oversight. Appropriate editorial action will be taken once the outcome of this investigation is known.

Apparently, the “appropriate editorial action” was retraction. Here’s the notice:

The journal has been informed by the authors’ institution that, contrary to the statement in this article [1], the Macquarie University Human Ethics Committee did not receive an application for ethics approval for this study. As the study was conducted without institutional ethics committee oversight, this article has been retracted.

BMC publishes peer reviewers’ comments, and this one was curious:

My initial overall impression of the formatting of the text is that there has been quite a lot of use of the synonyms tool on MS word, which is not necessarily a bad thing, although I did find it a barrier to a smooth flow when reviewing the work.

When we first reported on this case, we’d emailed Hoskins’ institution, Macquarie University, in Sydney, for information. After some time, we heard back from Karolyn White, director of research ethics at the school. White told us that the

matter is subject to an on-going investigation by Macquarie University and therefore the University is not able to make any further comment as it does not want to prejudice the outcome of the investigation.

Hoskins, the first author for all three papers, was a doctoral chiropractic student at Macquarie but is no longer at the university. A Wayne Hoskins does show up on Linkedin, where he’s listed  as a sports chiropractor at Royal Melbourne Hospital. We’ve attempted to reach him and will update this post if we hear anything.

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