Every so often, I check to see who is citing our work. There is no better feeling, from a scientific perspective, to have other authors use your work to build on. However, it is also important to check to see if they cited things properly. This was a case whereby the authors did not carefully read the original articles I had published as they misinterpreted we had done.
Here is an example and our letter to the editor below:
To the Editor of the Journal of Ergonomics,
We were interested to read the recent article by Phimphasak et al. (2015) in which the authors looked at spinal height recovery using stadiometry and lumbar range of motion comparing our supported seated unloading exercise intervention (Fryer, Quon, & Smith, 2010) to an unsupported seated strategy (Magnusson et al .1996). We were pleased to see our chair-care exercise routine was reproduced and demonstrated greater spinal height recovery in the short-course with stadiometry.
What prompted this letter is in the Discussion section of the article by Phimphasak et al. (2015) Firstly, the authors reported a height increase of 198.46% when referencing our work, however it is not clear to us how that statistic was generated. In our original article we reported that at the post-exercise time point, this measurement was 1,318.5 mm, reflecting an incremental increase of 12.9 (95% CI: 6.4, 19.3) mm after seated unloading exercises.
In addition, Phimphasak et al. (2015) also stated that, ‘this might be due to the fact that the stadiometry configuration in the Fryer et al. study was different from that in this study. In their study, participants had to move from sitting to the standing position for each SH measurement (Fryer, Quon, and Smith 2010).’ However, this statement by Phimphasak et al. (2015) is not true as all of our measures were performed while patients were seated. Possibly, the authors inadvertently referred to the methods of our earlier study in which subjects did stand after the chair-care exercise intervention ( Fryer & Zhang, 2010), but were subsequently modified (improved, actually) in our later study (Fryer, Quon & Smith 2010).
We applaud the authors in their efforts to investigate and compare the relative effects of supported and unsupported postural changes, particularly in the context of our ever-increasing world of sedentary work. We believe that even if spinal height recovery demonstrated only a short-term mechanical effect, future research is warranted to investigate whether the short-term mechanical effects of self-decompression exercises can translate into longer-lasting biological and clinically significant benefits through higher-dosage (e.g. higher-frequency) intervention.
Jerome C J Fryer DC
Jeffrey A. Quon, DC, MHSc, PhD, FCCS(C)
Francis W Smith MD
Fryer, J. C. J., Quon, J. a., & Smith, F. W. (2010). Magnetic resonance imaging and stadiometric assessment of the lumbar discs after sitting and chair-care decompression exercise: a pilot study. Spine Journal, 10(4), 297–305. doi:10.1016/j.spinee.2010.01.009
Fryer, J., & Zhang, W. (2010). Preliminary investigation into a seated unloading movement strategy for the lumbar spine: A pilot study. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 14(2), 119–126. doi:10.1016/j.jbmt.2008.06.008
Magnusson, M. L., Aleksiev, A. R., Spratt, K. F., Lakes, R. S., & Pope, M. H. (1996). Hyperextension and spine height changes. Spine, 21(22), 2670–2675. doi:10.1097/00007632-199611150-00017
Phimphasak, C., Swangnetr, M., Puntumetakul, R., Chatchawan, U., & Boucaut, R. (2015). Effects of seated lumbar extension postures on spinal height and lumbar range of motion during prolonged sitting. Ergonomics, (September), 1–9. doi:10.1080/00140139.2015.1052570
In turn, a response was published to correct the error and can be seen here.
Take home message.
Even if a publication exists, you have to careful on the information provided. Be a critical thinker and just because you see it as a peer reviewed article, errors are made. Fundamentally, the reviewers of these publications do it for free. It takes several hours to do a thorough review job with submitted articles. I thank them all for their contribution and hope we can find a way to encourage their completeness.