Medicine And Books

Systematic Reviews

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 16 September 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:759
  1. Stuart J Pocock, professor of medical statistics
  1. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

    Ed Iain Chalmers, Douglas G Altman BMJ Publishing Group, £14.95, pp 119 ISBN 0 7279 0904 5

    The function of the expert reviewer is not to be more right than other people, but to be wrong for more sophisticated reasons.” My cynical adaptation of this quote from the political commentator David Butler is meant to encapsulate the arbitrariness that has bedevilled decades of review articles on medical research. Unsystematic, selective, and subjective narrative reviews of the published evidence in a given topic carry a serious risk of erroneous conclusions, and hence the …

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