Readers of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) sometimes question the accuracy of information reported in published articles. Journal editors cannot independently verify everything an author reports. When a reader questions what an author has said in an article, the best way for an editor to handle this is to invite the reader to write a response for publication in the journal and, under most circumstances, to offer the original author the opportunity to write a rejoinder to the response. Readers then decide for themselves who to believe.
Ann Whitney Breihan published an article on consumer choice that was based on telephone interviews with state developmental disabilities officials in the December 2007 issue of IDD. Richard Jacobs, the director of a California regional center, has questioned the accuracy of Breihan's information on the California service system. Jacobs' response is published in this issue. Breihan's rejoinder follows.
Breihan stands by her original account of California's system and states that confidentiality prevents her from revealing the sources of information in her article. Yet, public information about developmental disability services is neither private nor confidential. Public officials do not have a right to confidentiality with regard to information about how public services are provided. It is also standard practice for researchers to acknowledge their sources on state surveys of developmental disability services. For example, the Research and Training Center on Community Living at the University of Minnesota, one of the most highly respected sources on national trends in developmental disabilities, whose research is frequently summarized in the “Trends & Milestones” section of IDD, lists its key state contacts in its annual national reports on residential services (see, e.g., Prouty, Smith, & Lakin, 2007, p. i). Jacobs has questioned Breihan's information. Breihan has replied. Readers must decide.
Author: Steven J. Taylor, PhD (firstname.lastname@example.org), Editor, IDD, and Director, Center on Human Policy, School of Education, Syracuse University, 805 S. Crouse Ave., Syracuse, NY 13244