Protection of patients' rights to privacy.
The following statement was agreed [upon] by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (the Vancouver Group) at its meeting last week in San Francisco. It is a complete revision of the initial guidelines on this subject issued in 1991. (+info
BMJ response to Dr. Gupta.
We sent a questionnaire survey to a random sample of 125 correspondents to the BMJ who had previously sent a letter which had been rejected. The objective was to evaluate the policy of sending on some unpublished letters to the authors of the articles to which they referred. There were 94 replies, a response rate of 75%. The key finding was that although most respondents agreed with the policy, a third thought it unconstructive. A quarter of the respondents said that the BMJ policy would discourage them from sending a letter to the journal for publication. This survey has led to a change of policy at the BMJ. Letters which are not published are not now sent on to the authors of the original articles. (+info
Prominent medical journals often provide insufficient information to assess the validity of studies with negative results.
BACKGROUND: Physicians reading the medical literature attempt to determine whether research studies are valid. However, articles with negative results may not provide sufficient information to allow physicians to properly assess validity. METHODS: We analyzed all original research articles with negative results published in 1997 in the weekly journals BMJ, JAMA, Lancet, and New England Journal of Medicine as well as those published in the 1997 and 1998 issues of the bimonthly Annals of Internal Medicine (N = 234). Our primary objective was to quantify the proportion of studies with negative results that comment on power and present confidence intervals. Secondary outcomes were to quantify the proportion of these studies with a specified effect size and a defined primary outcome. Stratified analyses by study design were also performed. RESULTS: Only 30% of the articles with negative results comment on power. The reporting of power (range: 15%-52%) and confidence intervals (range: 55-81%) varied significantly among journals. Observational studies of etiology/risk factors addressed power less frequently (15%, 95% CI, 8-21%) than did clinical trials (56%, 95% CI, 46-67%, p < 0.001). While 87% of articles with power calculations specified an effect size the authors sought to detect, a minority gave a rationale for the effect size. Only half of the studies with negative results clearly defined a primary outcome. CONCLUSION: Prominent medical journals often provide insufficient information to assess the validity of studies with negative results. (+info
With the availability of electronic databases, it has become crucial to provide informative abstracts to published papers. Articles published without an abstract run a great risk of being neglected by readers and authors. The Netherlands Journal of Medicine will provide informative abstracts of all future papers, including editorials and letters. (+info
Founding editorial--bone biology.
The skeleton is a complicated vertebrate structure, comprised of bone cells that form, modulate, and resorb the extracellular structure of bone. It is the extracellular structure, made up of the bone mineral (largely calcium phosphate) and the bone matrix, which constitutes the visible skeleton and the mechanical support for the vertebrate body. The matrix is the protein structure on which the bone mineral is laid down, many components of which have been identified in recent years. (+info
Emerging ethical issues in instructions to authors of high-impact biomedical journals.
Public interest in issues concerning the maintenance of high ethical standards in the conduct of scientific research and its publication has been increasing. Some of the developments in these issues as reflected in the publication of the medical literature are traced here. This paper attempts to determine whether public interest is reflected in the specific requirements for authors for manuscript preparation as stated in the "Instructions to Authors" for articles being prepared for submission to 124 "high-impact" journals. The instructions to authors of these journals were read on the Web for references to ethical standards or requirements. The ethical issues that the instructions most often covered were specifically related to the individual journal's publication requirements. The results suggest that while the editors and publishers of the biomedical literature are concerned with promoting and protecting the rights of the subjects of the experiments in the articles they publish, and while these concerns are not yet paramount, they are evolving and growing. (+info
Composition of the editorial boards of leading medical education journals.
BACKGROUND: Researchers from the developing world contribute only a limited proportion to the total research output published in leading medical education journals. Some of them believe that there is a substantial editorial bias against their work. To obtain an objective basis for further discussion the present study was designed to assess the composition of the editorial boards of leading medical education journals. METHODS: The editorial boards of the three leading medical education journals according to their impact factor were retrieved from the respective January issue of the year 2003. We evaluated in which countries the editorial board members were based and classified these countries using the World Bank income criteria. RESULTS: Individuals from a number of countries can be found on the editorial boards of the investigated journals, but most of them are based in high-income countries. CONCLUSION: The percentage of editorial board members which are based in developing world countries is higher for the leading medical education journals than in most of their psychiatry and general medicine counterparts. But it is still too low. (+info
Conflicts between commercial and scientific interests in pharmaceutical advertising for medical journals.
In 1992, researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, published a study on the scientific merit and validity of pharmaceutical advertisements in medical journals. Their results led them to conclude, provocatively, that many pharmaceutical advertisements contained deficiencies in areas in which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had established explicit standards of quality. This article provides a detailed account of third-party reactions to the study following its publication in the Annals of Internal Medicine, as well as the implications for those involved, including the authors, editors, and publisher. The increasingly diverging interests between medical journal editors and publishers are also discussed and highlighted by two recent cases of editors' departures from prominent general-interest medical journals. (+info