Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Likely Correction?

The Johns Hopkins statement includes:

The paper in The Lancet incorrectly stated that identifying data were not collected. An erratum will be submitted to The Lancet to correct the text of the 2006 paper on this point.

I am confused about how this is going to work. The only relevant statement that I could find in the paper was:

The survey purpose was explained to the head of household or spouse, and oral consent was obtained. Participants were assured that no unique identifiers would be gathered.

For all we know, this is a true statement. Perhaps this is what participants were told, albeit incorrectly. If that is so, then a hard core Lancet defender, like Les Roberts, might maintain that no correction is necessary. In fact, don't all the authors of a paper need to agree on any correction? I suppose that a single author, like Burnham, can say whatever he wants, but I wouldn't think that a single author has the right to make an official change unless the other authors agree. At most, a single author can just demand that his name be removed from the publication. And, say what you will about Les Roberts, but he is a head-strong fellow. Not that there is anything wrong with that! What if Burnham wants to make a correction but Roberts doesn't?

Perhaps there is some other reference in the paper that I have missed.

Moreover, wouldn't this also be a good time to correct the mistaken description in the paper of the sampling scheme. After all, even Roberts/Burnham admit that it is not accurate.

Anyway, I don't have a strong opinion on what will happen. I am just curious what others predict . . .


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