In unusual move judge grants CrossFits request to unmask anonymous peer reviewers

first_img Email In what appears to be a first, a U.S. court is forcing a journal publisher to breach its confidentiality policy and identify an article’s anonymous peer reviewers.The novel order, issued last month by a state judge in California, has alarmed some publishers, who fear it could deter scientists from agreeing to review draft manuscripts. Legal experts say the case, involving two warring fitness enterprises, isn’t likely to unleash widespread unmasking. But some scientists are watching closely.The dispute revolves around a 2013 paper, since retracted, that appeared in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. In the study, researchers at The Ohio State University in Columbus evaluated physical and physiological changes in several dozen volunteers who participated for 10 weeks in a training regimen developed by CrossFit Inc. of Washington, D.C. Among other results, they reported that 16% of participants dropped out because of injury. Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) In unusual move, judge grants CrossFit’s request to unmask anonymous peer reviewers Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrycenter_img A paper reporting injuries associated with a popular fitness regime has sparked a yearslong court battle. ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/ILBUSCA By Andrew P. Han Jan. 31, 2018 , 10:35 AM In public and in court, CrossFit has alleged that the injury statistic is false. CrossFit also claims that the journal’s publisher, the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) of Colorado Springs, Colorado—which is a competitor in the fitness business—intentionally skewed the study to damage CrossFit. NSCA in turn has countersued, accusing CrossFit executives of defamation. Amid the legal crossfire, the journal first corrected the paper to reduce the number of injuries associated with CrossFit, then retracted it last year, citing changes to a study protocol that were not first approved by a university review board.CrossFit suspects the paper’s reviewers and editors worked to play up injuries associated with its regimen, and it has asked both federal and state judges to force the publisher to unmask the reviewers. In 2014, a federal judge refused that request. But last month, Judge Joel Wohlfeil of the San Diego Superior Court in California, who is overseeing NSCA’s defamation suit against CrossFit, ordered the association to provide the names.That order is an outlier, attorneys familiar with such disputes say. They note that over the past 3 decades at least three other parties have unsuccessfully asked courts to unmask reviewers, going up against publishers including the American Physical Society, Elsevier, and the Massachusetts Medical Society, which publishes The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).Academic publishers can’t claim special protections for information provided in confidence, unlike journalists who can protect confidential sources under state shield laws. But judges have generally agreed with journals that unmasking reviewers would do more harm than good. In one notable 2007 case, pharma giant Pfizer subpoenaed NEJM for information about peer reviewers as part of a class action lawsuit related to the marketing of its painkillers Bextra and Celebrex. In an affidavit submitted on behalf of NEJM, Donald Kennedy, former president of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, who was then the editor-in-chief of Science, stated that were Pfizer to win, “I have no doubt whatever that … scientists would think twice about the next reviewing assignment, and that many would decide not to help.” The judge quashed Pfizer’s request.Despite such high-profile decisions, journals are constantly defending reviewer confidentiality, says Paul Shaw, an attorney at Verrill Dana in Boston who has represented NEJM for 17 years. Over that time, Shaw estimates he has fielded 30 to 35 subpoenas asking for information about a peer-reviewed article—usually one related to drugs or medical devices at the center of class action lawsuits. “Invariably,” he says, “one of the requests will be for the identity of and memoranda done by the peer reviewers.” Usually, Shaw responds by sending a standard objection letter that puts the matter to rest.So why did the CrossFit case take a different turn? One reason is that this time the publisher is the plaintiff, not the defendant, says Joshua Koltun, an attorney based in San Francisco, California, who has reviewed the case. Another is that the identity, conduct, and motivations of the reviewers could be key to CrossFit’s defense. NSCA, he notes, “is saying: ‘I’m going to sue [CrossFit] for saying I committed fraud, but I’m not going to let you see info that might prove [CrossFit’s claim].’ You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.”Shaw, for one, believes the case is so unusual that it won’t have broad ripple effects. “I don’t think it has any precedential value whatsoever,” he says. “For lack of a better legal descriptor, the facts seem very messy.”This story is the product of a collaboration between Science and Retraction Watch.last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *