Nondisclosure Cited in Iraq Casualties Study

In AAPOR's statement, its president, Richard A. Kulka, said: "When researchers draw important conclusions and make public statements and arguments based on survey research, then subsequently refuse to answer even basic questions about how their research was conducted, this violates the fundamental standards of science, seriously undermines open public debate on critical issues, and undermines the credibility of all survey and public opinion research."

The inquiry by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School was disclosed in an e-mail from Tim Parsons, the school's public affairs director, as follows:

"The level of civilian mortality in Iraq is a controversial subject. Questions have been raised regarding the findings and methodology of the 2006 Iraq mortality study conducted by Dr. Gilbert Burnham and published in The Lancet. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health takes any allegation of scientific or professional misconduct very seriously. It believes that the correct forum for discussing the reported findings of the Lancet study and the general methodology that led to those findings is in the regular exchange of views in the scientific literature. The Bloomberg School of Public Health has undertaken a review of the study to determine if any violation of the school's rules or guidelines for the conduct of research occurred in the conduct of the study. That review is nearing completion and the school is unable to discuss the results at this time."

Parsons added: "The American Association for Public Opinion Researchers (sic) chose to criticize Dr. Burnham for failure to fully cooperate with the organization's review of his 2006 study. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is not a member of the organization and does not know what procedures or standards were followed in reaching the decision regarding this study and therefore is not in a position to comment on the decision."

Parsons declined to specify what initiated the school's review, or when it began.

Full disclosure: Gary Langer is a member of AAPOR and past president of its New York chapter.

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