Many scientific research studies fail to look at similar works that have already been completed. Thereby possibly skewing results and future treatments.
A child learns in grade school to be sure to not take credit for someone elseâ€™s work.Â This same child learns that in order to be a good scientist that one must be able to effectively communicate.Â According to a January 17, 2011 article in the New York Times, some in the medical field are having trouble playing by these â€œrulesâ€.Â The article reveals the failure of several published clinical trials in medicine to cite previous related studies.
Two investigators at John Hopkins University School of Medicine, Karen A. Robinson and Dr. Steven N. Goodman apparently have uncovered that many published works and medical studies are going uncited.Â Dr. Robinson, an assistant professor in the internal medicine and health science division, and Dr. Goodman, a professor of epidemiology and biostatics and editor of the journal Clinical Trials, identified this problem when they studied 227 meta-analyses.Â Meta-analyses are studies that combine relevant previous studies to glean data from pooled evidence.Â These meta-analyses cited a total of 1,523 clinical trials.Â For each clinical trial, the investigative team asked how many of the other trials, published before it on the same topic included with it in the meta-analysis, were cited.Â According to the article, the team never expected so very few.
Their study not only shocked them, but Dr. Goodman is reported as having said, â€œAs cynical as I am about such things, I didnâ€™t realize the situation was this bad.â€Â The research team reported in a January issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, their unbelievable results.Â Dr. Goodman stated in an email concerning the situation that, â€œeither everyone thinks their study is really unique (when others thought it wasnâ€™t), or they want to unjustifiably claim originality, or they just donâ€™t know how or want to look.â€Â He has also stated that, â€œNot only is it unscientific, it is unethical.â€
Dr. Goodman furthermore describes a phenomenon in medicine: when a doctor is examining a patient, he may need to use other studies and information in order to properly diagnose said patient; however, with this phenomenon, despite a multitude of clinical trials on a particular subject, data needed by the doctor is not available and does not supply the answers doctors need to treat the patient.
The situation and â€œphenomenonâ€ as described above, can cause serious problems, says Sir Iain Chalmers, editor of the James Lind Library.Â Such library is an invaluable source of information on appropriate tests of medical treatments.Â Chalmers said that some patients have suffered severe side effects and/or even died because researchers were not aware of medical studies and clinical trials that were previously done, because they were improperly documented and cited.Â Failure to cite such previous works, can effect hypotheses, conclusions, and therefore treatment options.
Much was quoted from Dr. Goodman concerning their recent research and the erroneous actions of many published researchers in this article.Â Dr. Robinson, the other researcher, did not go on record concerning these results in this article.