Nine articles by internationally renowned concussion expert Dr Paul McCrory have been removed from a prestigious medical journal and dozens more have had concerning opinions placed over them, after repeated allegations of plagiarism against the neurologist and former long-term sports concussion consultant.
The British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM) and its publisher, BMJ, said in a statement and editorial on Monday that their faith in McCrory’s work was “shattered”. They had checked plagiarism claims for five articles written by the newspaper’s former editor. Three other articles contained a “duplicate (or redundant) publication”.
In the ninth retracted article, “McCrory inaccurately quotes and misrepresents the position of Dr. Augustus Thorndike,” the BJSM editors said. “The quote misrepresents Thorndike’s recommendations for managing continued participation in contact sport after a concussion, which McCrory used to support his position in the article.”
The editors’ investigations had “revealed a pattern of publishing misconduct on the part of McCrory”, they said, leading to their decision to place a notice to readers, “an expression of concern” on all of its single-author articles.
“Plagiarism is a scientific error. Plagiarism by occupying the position of editor of a journal is an abuse of the power and responsibilities that come with this function. It undermines both the science and the trust placed in the editors to protect the integrity of the scientific record,” the editorial said.
“The scientific record is built on trust, and the BMJ’s confidence in McCrory’s work – particularly the papers he has published as sole author – is shattered. We will investigate any new allegations we receive regarding the McCrory’s work published in BMJ journals We ask other publishers and his institution to do the same.
The newspaper said it had given McCrory “the opportunity to notify us of any other articles of his that may not meet acceptable standards for publication,” but had not provided any new information.
Plagiarism allegations first aired in March against McCrory, leading the BJSM to retract one of its 2005 editorials, citing ‘unlawful and indefensible copyright infringement’ of the professor’s work Steve Haake.
McCrory, who is also an honorary associate of the University of Melbourne’s prestigious Florey Institute for Medical Research, made a statement at the time to Retraction Watch, his only public statements on the matter to date, saying his inability to attributing Haake’s work was a mistake and “not deliberate or intentional”.
McCrory was the chairman of the influential Concussion in Sport Group (CISG) and the lead author of four of the group’s five highly influential consensus statements on concussion in sport, all of which were published in the BJSM. These documents have shaped concussion management protocols in professional and amateur sports globally, including several football codes, hockey, rugby union, and more.
The BJSM editorial noted that “McCrory’s involvement in concussion consensus statements is his most influential work”. After reviewing the most recent statement from 2016 “in detail”, “our conclusion is that we have no concerns about plagiarism”.
“Beyond that, the question of the extent of McCrory’s input and influence on the five versions of the consensus statement is a matter for the CISG-appointed scientific committee,” the editorial said.
McCrory resigned from CIHR in March, following initial allegations of plagiarism.
Separately, in March, Guardian Australia revealed that in May 2018 McCrory provided an enforceable undertaking to the Medical Board of Australia that he would not perform neurodiagnostic procedures.
Guardian Australia has attempted to contact McCrory on several occasions regarding the plagiarism allegations, his clinical research, his treatment of concussed players, enforceable medical board commitments and related matters and has received no response.
In April, following the allegations, the AFL announced an independent review led by Bernard Quinn KC into McCrory’s historic medical research, company circumstances and concussion advice he provided to the league, including “circumstances in which McCrory treated or assessed AFL or AFLW players or retired players”.
On Friday, the coroner presiding over the hearing into the inquest guidelines into the death of former Richmond player Shane Tuck, learned that the outcome of that review was “imminent”. Tuck took his own life in 2020 aged 38 and it was later discovered that he had a severe case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative disease associated with repeated head trauma and a history of concussion cerebral.
In September, Guardian Australia reported that Nick Brown, a data analyst at Linnaeus University in Sweden, found 10 more cases of alleged plagiarism by McCrory, involving work published between 2001 and 2018, including unattributed incorporation. of a Washington Post reporter’s work in a book chapter on sports concussion recovery, and numerous instances in which he did not attribute his own previously published work. McCrory did not respond to requests for comment at the time.
The BJSM editorial notes that during his career, McCrory published “at least 164 articles in BMJ journals, 40 of which were co-authored research papers”. He placed notices of concern above the 38 articles he says are single-authored; this count is disputed by the website Retraction Watch, which counts 78 single-author articles by McCrory.