April 17, 2024

Many journal articles skewed toward positive results

Articles in medical journals may be biased towards positive results, calling into question many “miracle drugs” and breakthrough developments, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. Many scientists cherry-pick favourable results; others change direction when interesting results emerge. Many researchers change their main objectives in the course of research, violating basic guidelines for good research.

Dr An-Wen Chen, of Oxford University, analysed 102 trials and found that researchers had failed to report almost two-thirds of results relating to potentially harmful outcomes.

Mounting concern about the influence of drug companies upon researchers has prompted closer scrutiny of research methods in recent years. A study at the Yale School of Medicine showed that 80% of clinical trials backed by drug manufacturers were positive — compared to 50% of those carried out by independent academics.