Intended for healthcare professionals


Structuring the discussion of scientific papers

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 28 August 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:580

Results of single studies must be assessed in context of relevant systematic reviews

  1. Tom Jefferson, coordinator (
  1. Cochrane Vaccines Field, UK Cochrane Centre, Surrey GU16 6JP
  2. Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, Western Infirmary, Glasgow G11 6NT
  3. Division of Internal Medicine, Universidade Federal de Sã Paulo, Sã Paulo, Brazil

    EDITOR—Docherty and Smith invite comments on their proposal to structure the discussion section of original scientific papers.1 The proposal, although not new, does not go far enough to address the quality problems of contemporary published research.

    The key element that is missing from the proposal is the explicit insistence that “reports of primary research should begin by referring, in the introduction, to the results of a systematically conducted, published review of the results of relevant previously reported studies, explaining why the current study was justified. The discussion section of the report should set the data generated by the …

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