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Research papers should omit their authors’ affiliations

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 03 November 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g6439
  1. Matthew Harris, Commonwealth Fund Harkness fellow in healthcare policy and practice, New York University, New York, USA
  1. mjh599{at}

Omitting the provenance of research in published reports might reduce bias when readers assess their use, thinks Matthew Harris

We pay a lot of attention to the internal validity of research. Was the research well designed? Were there biases? Were confounders appropriately adjusted for? Were the methods adequately described? We do not, however, pay a lot of attention to how we consume that research. All things being equal would you pay more attention to a study from Harvard University in the United States or one from the University of Abuja in Nigeria?

If you chose Harvard University, you are not alone. Analyses of submissions to Gastroenterology and Cardiovascular Research have shown that reviewers judge research articles from their own country more favourably than those from other countries.1 2 In one controversial experiment, published scientific articles were resubmitted with fictitious names and institutions to the prestigious journals that had published them 18 months earlier. Eight of the nine …

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