News & Opinion
Sense about Science, “an independent charitable trust promoting good science and evidence in public debates” has just published a short briefing paper on Systematic Reviews. The UK charity has the aim of “promoting respect for evidence and by urging scientists to engage actively with a wide range of groups, particularly when debates are controversial or difficult.”
BioMed Central has developed useful guidelines for authors about exactly what is meant by duplicate (or redundant) publication. They cover not only overlaps with other journal articles but issues such as preprint servers (and they mention the COPE flowchart!). You can find them at
This paper, published on Nov 12th, looked at 12 trials where both published reports and internal company documents on off label use of gabapentin (Neurontin) could be examined. The authors found that for "8 of the 12 reported trials, the primary outcome defined in the published report differed from that described in the protocol.", and go on to describe the types of differences found, including that "Of the 21 primary outcomes described in the protocols of the published trials, 6 were not reported at all and 4 were reported as secondary outcomes.
The UK's National Research Ethics Service (NRES), which coordinates ethical review of research, is likely to be reorganized. Depending on the outcome, this could have implications for editors who publish research done in the UK and need to understand that it has undergone proper ethical scrutiny. Details will probably appear on http://www.nres.npsa.nhs.uk/ (but there is no information there yet).
The ICMJE (International Committee of Medical Journal Editors) has announced a new format for Disclosure of Competing Interests. The policy, outlined on the ICMJE website, (which has been updated recently by the way and is worth a look at) also includes a form that has been adopted by the ICMJE member journals, and which the ICMJE is encouraging other journals to consider adopting.
Sheldon Krimsky & Erin Sweet from Tufts University, Massachusetts, USA have studied the conflict of interest (CoI) policies of over 200 medical and toxicology journals. They found that about 85% of the journals had a written CoI policy but in many cases these lacked specificity or were of limited scope (eg covering only certain types of financial interest).
See Accountability in Research 2009;16:235-53
The article is not Open Access but the abstract is available on Medline.