The AFL has been forced to apologise for a poorly run concussion research project for former players, as an investigation into the work of an associate professor who was a key advisor to the league on concussion found that his reputation had an “embarrassing blemish”, but that it did not taint his work.
This update on the McCrory case provides us with an opportunity to make an important point when members of a research team commit research misconduct. The behaviour of a cheat/charlatan can not only tarnish their own career, and hurt the careers of their collaborators, it can also undermine an important point or promising line of enquiry. This point does not point to the need to change institutional research integrity, professional development, policy or guidance material per se. It does mean that the observation can be made to researchers planning on embarking on collaborative research of the importance of being alert to the behaviour of their collaborators.
McCrory had been one of the sporting world’s leading concussion consultants, and had been the lead author on four of the last five consensus statements on concussion in sport, from which the AFL designed its concussion guidelines and recovery protocols, including the 11-step process and minimum 12-day break for concussed players.
The findings of the investigation were released in a 260-page report on Tuesday, including that “the panel found that associate professor McCrory informed the review of seven editorials which contained plagiarised text and the independent panel identified plagiarism in a further two editorials, one article and two book chapters. It found that the identified plagiarism constituted an embarrassing blemish on associate professor McCrory’s professional/academic reputation.