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Publish And Be Damned

Wanted—more answers than questions: literature review

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 22 December 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:1462
  1. Anthony S David (, professor
  1. Institute of Psychiatry and Guy's, King's College, and St Thomas's School of Medicine, London SE5 8AF

    The purpose of medical research is to advance knowledge and solve clinical problems. These high ideals are difficult to achieve. Instead, academia sometimes draws criticism for apparently doing research for its own sake. I therefore carried out a systematic literature review to examine whether published research was providing more questions than answers, or vice versa.

    Methods and results

    I used “more questions than answers” as a search term in the Medline database, spanning from 1966 to March 2001. To limit the potential number of hits, only the title and abstract were used as search fields. I also searched on the phrase “more answers than questions.” All article types were included if they had an English abstract.

    Two terms occurred in 166 articles (reference list available on request). However, only three articles (0.018%) …

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