The findings helped heave olive oil and nuts into the realm of the sacred. They were catnip for journalists (“Mediterranean Diet Shown to Ward Off Heart Attack and Stroke,” the New York Times story read. “Spanish Test: Mediterranean Diet Shines In Clinical Study,” proclaimed NPR’s headline.) And they spawned a cottage industry of studies by other scientists, who used the PREDIMED data to run hundreds of different analyses. But it turns out the trial wasn’t properly run.
It's an example of an open secret in medicine: Many of the articles that appear in scientific journals under the bylines of prominent academics are actually written by ghostwriters in the pay of drug companies.
Do top journals publish more flawed papers — or do they just get more scrutiny?
How excited would you be about a medication that lowered your risk of cardiovascular death, heart attack or stroke by 1.5%? Excited enough to spend a few thousand dollars a year on the drug? I expect not.
What if, instead, the drug reduced those same terrible outcomes by 20%? That’s probably enough benefit to interest some in the drug.
Reading and understanding research papers is a skill that every single doctor and scientist has had to learn during graduate school. You can learn it too, but like any skill it takes patience and practice.
Some research publications are getting away from flawed measures of influence that make it easy to game the system.
Forget books and magazines. Turn off the television. Put down the Starr report. If you really want the lowdown, something that will tell you almost anything you want to know about people, medical journals are where the action is. One of medicine's hidden pleasures is that while there is a fantastic amount to learn about human beings, most of it is already spelled out in some journal.
Much of what medical researchers conclude in their studies is misleading, exaggerated, or flat-out wrong. So why are doctors—to a striking extent—still drawing upon misinformation in their everyday practice? Dr. John Ioannidis has spent his career challenging his peers by exposing their bad science.
Competition is fierce to get published in leading journals. But what about the overworked professors at less prestigious schools and community colleges, without big grants and state-of-the-art labs? How do they get ahead?
As it turns out, many of their articles are appearing in “journals” that will publish almost anything, for fees that can range into the hundreds of dollars per paper. These publications often are called predatory journals, on the assumption that well-meaning academics are duped into working with them — tricked by flattering emails from the journals inviting them to submit a paper or fooled by a name that sounded like a journal they knew.
My friend Matt is covered in medical tattoos.
Should scientific articles be available online and free to the public?
Even with the best available evidence from around the world at our disposal, we have to analyze it and apply it to our particular circumstances. A personal experience with the success or failure of a drug, like an allergic reaction, is more informative for you than the most rigorous study on the drug ever could be.
Researchers from high-profile institutions are falling for these scams.
In a field supposedly peer-reviewed and self-correcting, there is a decided lack of transparency and dissemination when it comes to retractions. Enter Retraction Watch, which aims to change the paradigm.
Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process
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