Publication bias

ThompsonAn interesting analysis was recently published showing that the Russell group of Universities have a strong tendency to publish research with significant findings only. Actually a ‘strong tendency’ is an understatement. The analysis found, for example, that researchers from the University of Birmingham published 119 pieces of research during the study period of which only 9% had non-significant findings.

What is especially remarkable about this piece of research is that it is by a sixth form student, Chloë Thompson from The Becket Sixth Form in Nottingham. She did work experience with Clive Adams at Nottingham University, who also works with the Schizophrenia Group of the Cochrane Library (a huge free-to-access database of research on medical and health issues).

The value of this research is that it supports the current pressure on medical research institutions to publish all of their results, not just the positive ones, so that doctors have a truer picture of findings. This is a movement spearheaded by Ben Goldacre in his recent book Bad Pharma.