The NSCA’s Journal of Strength and Conditioning Resarch (JSCR) accepted a study earlier this year entitled The Nature and Prevalence of Injury During CrossFit Training, authored by Dr. Paul Hak. The JSCR published the study ahead of print, but we found a full copy and quickly discovered the study was fatally flawed in its unscientific conclusions about CrossFit. The full review can be read here.
After discovering this error, I conducted an interview with Dr. Paul Hak in which he explained that one of the errors in his study must have been the result of a “typo.” I then emailed the board of the NSCA to inform them that I had discovered this error and asking that they address it before they published the study in full.
A year prior to this incident, I sent a very similar email to the NSCA, alerting them to my concerns about the fabricated injury data presented in the study Crossfit-Based High-Intensity Power Training Improves Maximal Aerobic Fitness and Body Composition. I received no response to this email, was brushed-off after a personal phone call to the JSCR’s Editor-in-Chief, Dr. William Kraemer, and the study is now the subject of two lawsuits.
Needless to say, I was surprised when the NSCA responded to my concerns about the Hak study. I was even more surprised to see that NSCA essentially placed the responsibility of investigating factually inaccurate material published in the JSCR on me, the whistleblower. This appears to be a highly unusual practice, and one that goes against ethical standards of academic publishing. The NSCA responded with the following:
To be fair, this was an improvement over being completely ignored. so I wrote the following letter to Dr. William Kraemer in reply:
About a month later, I was copied on an email from the NSCA’s Terry Housh, which included a response from Dr. Paul Hak:
At the time of this blog entry, both of these letters have been published side-by-side in the JSCR. The NSCA even published the link on their Facebook page, but this wasn’t where the conversation ended. In his response, Hak failed to justify his invalid citation of the CHAMP paper, so I replied with the following letter to Hak and sent an official copy to Dr. Kraemer:
Shortly after sending this message, I was copied (I believe accidentally) on this email from Terry Housh to William Kraemer (Bill):
After a few days of radio silence, I sent this final email and was sure to mail a hard copy to Dr. Kraemer:
While the pressure of pending lawsuits against the NSCA has apparently improved the responsiveness of Dr. Kraemer and the JSCR staff, the fact that they were only willing to publish the first two parts of our correspondence is disturbing. In my emails to Dr. Kraemer, I demonstrated that Hak’s citation of CHAMP (an opinion piece) as fact, was invalid. Why is this a serious issue? Dr. Kraemer’s own employer, The University of Connecticut, identifies “quoting, paraphrasing or summarizing someone incorrectly” as a form of plagiarism. Now Hak may have done this by mistake, but publishing that mistake after it had been brought to light is unacceptable. On top of this, we must ask why Dr. Kraemer is even making decisions regarding the validity of citations of work for which he is a contributing author, an apparent conflict of interest.