Intended for healthcare professionals


Inadequate post-publication review of medical research

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 11 August 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c3803
  1. David L Schriger, professor of emergency medicine1,
  2. Douglas G Altman, director and professor of statistics in medicine2
  1. 1Emergency Medicine Center, School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, 924 Westwood Blvd Suite 300, Los Angeles, CA 90024-2924, USA
  2. 2Centre for Statistics in Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford OX2 6UD
  1. schriger{at}

    A sign of an unhealthy research environment in clinical medicine

    Imagine a vibrant field of scientific inquiry. Researchers focus on solving the most urgent uncertainties of the discipline and publish papers that, guided by reporting guidelines1 and further improved by pre-publication peer review, provide comprehensive accounts of their methods, findings, and limitations. The research community, keen to advance the field, engages in an active dialogue regarding the validity and implications of each new paper. Post-publication critique, as the final arbiter of the meaning of each new communication, is no less important than the earlier phases and is a sign of a healthy scientific community, a community actively working to move the field forward.2 3 4

    In the linked study (doi:10.1136/bmj.c3926),5 Gøtzsche and colleagues’ finding that authors of BMJ articles are reluctant to respond to criticisms submitted as rapid responses reinforces the finding of the few previous studies,4 6 7 which found consistent evidence that all aspects of post-publication review are wanting in medical research. Most research articles in medical journals receive no …

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