The current system of publishing medical and scientific research provides "a distorted view of the reality of scientific data that are generated in the laboratory and clinic," says a team of researchers in PLoS Medicine.
In their Essay, Neal Young (National Institutes of Health, USA), John Ioannidis (Tufts University School of Medicine, USA and University of Ioannina School of Medicine, Greece), and Omar Al-Ubaydli (George Mason University, USA) apply principles from the field of economics to present evidence consistent with a distortion.
There is an "extreme imbalance," they say, between the abundance of supply (the output of basic science laboratories and clinical investigations) and the increasingly limited venues for publication (journals with sufficiently high impact).
The result is that only a small proportion of all research results are eventually chosen for publication, and these results are unrepresentative of scientists' repeated samplings of the real world.
The authors argue that there is a moral imperative to reconsider how scientific data are judged and disseminated.
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