A 1997 US law mandated the registry’s creation, requiring researchers from 2000 to record their trial methods and outcome measures before collecting data. The study found that in a sample of 55 large trials testing heart-disease treatments, 57% of those published before 2000 reported positive effects from the treatments. But that figure plunged to just 8% in studies that were conducted after 2000. Study author Veronica Irvin, a health scientist at Oregon State University in Corvallis, says this suggests that registering clinical studies is leading to more rigorous research. Writing on his NeuroLogica Blog, neurologist Steven Novella of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, called the study “encouraging” but also “a bit frightening” because it casts doubt on previous positive results.
Agreed. Yikes! People’s lives might be at stake.
Irvin says that by having to state their methods and measurements before starting their trial, researchers cannot then cherry-pick data to find an effect once the study is over. “It’s more difficult for investigators to selectively report some outcomes and exclude others,” she says.
Now, there’s a cherry tree that should enter eternity as a fine rolltop desk.
See also: Retraction Watch for regular updates on these problems
If peer review is working, why all the retractions?
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