Is it always misleading?
I read with interest Montori et al’s paper on ‘Users' guide to
detecting misleading claims in clinical research reports’.1 The advice to
read only the methods and results section and to bypass the discussion
section, though may be ideal did not seem to be the sine qua non. Penston
J in his response, has already objected to this ‘radical proposal’, from a
reader point of view.
The implications of this to some authors of clinical research papers
are unnerving. Every research paper that is produced is not perfect.
Authors are more often than not fully aware of the bias and pitfalls that
occur in their paper, some of which are inevitable. The discussion
section gives the researcher an opportunity to address these issues and
explain their obligatory position. The researcher has spent valuable time
and resources on the work and is versatile with the methodology and
results. In contrast to this, a reader who scans the methods and results
section can easily overlook important information as critical appraisal of
a clinical trial is a truly absorbing and daunting task. Whilst it may be
true that some research papers can mislead the reader towards believing
the result, it is debatable if the mentioned tip warrants a number one
slot in the users’ guide.
1 Victor M Montori, Roman Jaeschke, Holger J Schünemann, et al.
Users' guide to detecting misleading claims in clinical research reports.
Competing interests: No competing interests