News & Opinion
A news item on the BBC’s Today programme this morning discussed the issue of what can potentially happen when a small group of researchers predominate in a field. Two scientists working in stem cell research suggested that such small groups can tend to dominate the review process of papers and lead to bias and delays in publication of papers from other groups.
The UK animal welfare charity, the RSCPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), campaigns among other issues on the use of animals in medical research.
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).