Clinical Trials: Registered Late, Published Late, Smaller Than Planned

Kent Anderson, writing in the The Scholarly Kitchen, observes:

For any major medical study, the stakes are high — the results can affect how patients take care of themselves and how physicians treat disease, for years if not decades. Yet all is not well in the land of medical research, judging from a recent analysis of, which finds that the majority of clinical studies are too small to matter in the near-term, are published late, and could be subtly manipulated by researchers, given when they are registered.

Problems like these are yielding undesirable downstream effects — for instance, only 15% of clinical guidelines are based on robust evidence, and there’s ongoing difficulty replicating published results.

The essay is on line, open access:


NYT: Perils of “Bite Size” Science

Marco Bertamini (psychologist at the University of Liverpool) and Marcus R. Munafo (psychologist at the University of Bristol), writing in the New York Times, question the wisdom of sliced-and-diced science article publishing, the tendency among some scholars and researchers to get out the door the smallest publishable unit (with the result of adding more publications to the CV), also known as “salami publishing.”

They refute some the claims made on behalf of publishing a greater number of smaller articles, and note that the practice raises questions about the quality of the science (smaller articles may not reflect adequate replication, they have a smaller sample size, they are prone to publication bias).

“The Perils of ‘Bite Size’ Science” is available on line.