Scientific journal refuses to investigate improprieties in articles regarding asbestos

Tue, Sep 15, 2015


Kathleen Ruff,

In a letter of September 3, 2015, scientists express disappointment at the refusal of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Public Health (EBPH) to investigate concerns over scientific and ethical improprieties in articles regarding asbestos by Edward B. Ilgren et al., which the journal published earlier this year.

The scientists had asked EBPH  to:

  • Seriously evaluate the possibility of retracting Ilgren’s articles.
  • Carry out a thorough evaluation of the scientific and ethical quality of the peer review process used by the EBPH reviewers to assess Ilgren’s articles.
  • Initiate an investigation to evaluate whether Ilgren’s articles comply with the scientific standards and editorial policies of EBPH and whether there is any evidence of editorial fraud by Ilgren and colleagues.

In a letter of August 28, 2015, Stefania Boccia, co-Editor in Chief of EBPH, rejected these requested actions.

As a result of the complaint concerning the authors failure to disclose their conflicting interests, EBPH published an Erratum for each of the asbestos articles, disclosing the authors’ ties with companies involved in asbestos litigation and with an international organisation, International Chrysotile Association, which represents asbestos interests and promotes the sale of asbestos in developing countries.

EBPH is the official journal of the Italian Society of Medical Statistics and Clinical Epidemiology (SISMEC), which will be holding its annual conference from September 16 to September 19, 2015.

Boccia stated that the issues raised by the scientists will be discussed at the SISMEC conference.

In their September 3 letter to the Editors in Chief of EBPH, Stefania Boccia and Carlo La Vecchia, the scientists state:

“The response we have received from EBPH demonstrates, in our opinion, an unacceptable disregard of scientific and ethical standards. We hope that, in the discussions on these issues that will take place at the upcoming SISMEC conference in September, there will be commitment to take serious action on these matters.”


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