Intended for healthcare professionals

Publish And Be Damned

Amount of research interest in rare and common neurological conditions: bibliometric study

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 22 December 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:1461
  1. Rustam Al-Shahi, MRC clinical training fellow,
  2. Robert G Will, professor of clinical neurology,
  3. Charles P Warlow (, professor of medical neurology
  1. University Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh EH4 2XU
  1. Correspondence to: C P Warlow

    Neurologists are often accused of being interested in only rare incurable diseases. Although this may have been true in the past, today's neurologists claim to be more concerned with common disorders—but are they really?

    Methods and results

    We derived a “publication ratio” to measure the amount of research interest in 44 conditions representative of the spectrum of neurological disorders, for which there are population based estimates of frequency.1 We divided the number of Medline papers published in 1998 about each condition (in which their MeSH term was the focus of the paper) by a measure of their frequency (incidence or prevalence) × 100 000. When counting the number of publications, the investigator (RAS) was blinded to the frequency of each disease.

    Publication ratios for 44 neurological conditions ordered by their incidence (top) and prevalence (bottom)

    Far more papers investigated rare as opposed to common neurological disorders when the relative frequencies …

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