First, there was a furore over an article to be published in the British Dyslexia Association's (BDA) Journal, Dyslexia, in which 5 of the 33-member editorial board resigned in protest over the weak quality of the research and questionable conflicts of interest.
The BDA has been through a serious financial cash flow crisis which has been caused by a number of issues. One of the main issues is a project funded by the European Social Fund involving two UK Government departments. Funds from this project have not been received due to a complex set of bureaucratic circumstances. The BDA was not able to resolve this issue in time to avoid the crisis. Despite considerable effort the issue remains unresolved at this time. The BDA continues to lobby Government and Civil Servants at the highest level to find a solution. External consultants have reviewed the BDA’s processes for this project and confirmed that these have been done correctly for a European Social Fund project. The BDA will continue its efforts to resolve this issue.
The BDA is pleased to be able to announce that it has secured a rescue package from a consortium of funders and it gained generous support from its friends, contacts and members through the ‘Save the BDA Appeal’.
More on the Dyslexia Journal row:
The row over the technique [Dore or DDAT] has been brought to a head by the resignation of five board members of a scientific journal that published a highly favourable study of the programme. They include some of Britain’s most eminent scientists in learning difficulties.
They were concerned over the rigour of the study and the close links of those behind it with Wynford Dore, a businessman who made a fortune from fire- resistant paint before moving into dyslexia treatment.
The author of the study in the journal Dyslexia was paid £30,000 for carrying out the research by Dore, who has also sponsored PhD students taught by the co-author.
Uta Frith, professor of cognitive development at University College London and one of those who resigned, said: “People stand to make a lot of money on the basis of research that appears in journals so it is important the studies are scientific in their approach. I don’t feel this was the case.”
In addition to the five who have resigned, one of the journal’s executive editors is also on the verge of leaving.
Several academics raised concerns over apparent conflicts of interest. Reynolds was paid £30,000 in expenses by Dore to carry out the study, and was formerly a paid director in a company run by the businessman. Three quarters of the screening tests on the children were carried out by researchers from DDAT, a Dore firm.
Professor Rod Nicolson, a psychologist at Sheffield University and the study’s co-author, (comment: also one of the four executive editors of the journal) supervises the postgraduate study of Dore’s business partner, Dr Roy Rutherford.
Dore has also sponsored three PhD students in Nicolson’s department. Questions have also been raised over Nicolson’s working relationship with Angela Fawcett, editor of Dyslexia. They have written 30 articles and three books together.
Dr Michael Thomson, executive editor of Dyslexia, who is considering tendering his notice, said: “I think the editor is too closely associated with Nicolson. It is depressing this (research) is associated with a journal purporting to be objective.”
The study also faced criticism as most of the children assessed were not dyslexic. Some were 22 months ahead of their reading age before the treatment while the writing and semantic fluency of most was above average.
John Stein, professor of physiology at Cambridge University, was also concerned by the lack of a control group and the small scale of the study.
He said: “I have serious concerns about the study. Without a control group, you don’t know how the children would have done, or how they would have progressed without the exercises.”