News & Opinion
A Perspective in the New England Journal of Medicine on 8 January (not freely available, unfortunately) discusses the insights that have come from the documents made available as part of the litigation surrounding the off-label marketing of Neurontin (gabapentin). This is a very long-running story. However, the evidence still has the power to shock — for example, this quote in 1996 of an executive from the company selling gabapentin talking to a new recruit:
Publication bias seems like a problem that just won't go away. PLoS Medicine published a paper (doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0050217) late last year that indicated that this practice is alive and well in what is probably the most concerning area of all, clinical trials.
We believe the paper with the most authors ever recorded (a massive 2512!) is Aleph et al. Precision electroweak measurements on the Z resonance. Physics Reports 2006, 427:257–454 (available at http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/hep-ex/pdf/0509/0509008v3.pdf ) — unless somebody knows better...?
Lutz Bornmann and colleagues have tried to find out how much editors look for signs of research misconduct when assessing manuscripts. They reviewed 46 studies that reported editors’ and reviewers’ criteria for judging papers but found that none of the main criteria listed was related to detecting data falsification or fabrication. The paper is available at Scientometrics 2008, 77:415–32. doi: 10.1007/s11192-007-1950-2
Last month the World Association of Medical Editors announced the new version of the Declaration of Helsinki. This document, which was first drawn up in 1964, is essential reading for everyone doing research on human participants. The revision was the result of a huge amount of international consultation, and along with many other organisations, COPE provided input into this document.
A few weeks ago PLoS Medicine published an editorial on the thorny and confusing issue of non-financial competing interests.