Edited by Drummond Rennie, MD, and Annette Flanagin, RN, MA
Articles on authorship and contributorship report on honorary and ghost
authorship in Cochrane reviewsArticle, problems indexing and citing articles with
group authorship using current bibliographic databasesArticle, and diversity of opinion
among contributors to a research articleArticle, which is commonly excluded from
Articles on peer review report that objectives of peer review are poorly
defined, an intervention to improve the quality of peer reviews had no apparent
benefit, and author satisfaction with peer review seemed to be tied more to
the publication decision than to review quality. Other studies compared methods
of recruiting peer reviewers and contacting tardy reviewers.
Research on quality issues includes how well discussion sections place
results of a new controlled trial in the context of other relevant researchArticle,
the relationship between reporting and methodologic qualityArticle, and identification
of predictors of journal qualityArticle. Other issues investigated include quality
of systematic reviews of economic evaluationsArticle, use of number needed to treat
and absolute risk reduction to express findings in reports of controlled trialsArticle,
accuracy of data presentationArticle, use of statistical expertise in medical researchArticle,
and effects of technical editingArticle.
Research on biasArticle evaluated whether studies with positive results were
more likely to be published than those with negative results and whether time
to publicationArticle was associated with statistical significance of findings or
other study characteristics. Another studyArticle evaluated the risk of introducing
bias into a review by changing the research protocol.
Reporting on informed consent and ethics committee approval improved
in trials published after 1997 compared with trials published before 1997Article.
A second article Article discusses legal principles and techniques available to journals
to protect the confidentiality of peer review and editorial processes in response
to requests or subpeonas for confidential documents.
In letters published in response to 3 clinical trials, authors failed
to answer more than half of all criticisms, and important weaknesses in the
trials were ignored in subsequently published practice guidelinesArticle. Another
studyArticle found that the strongest predictor of subsequent citation of published
research was the impact factor of the original publishing journal.
Several articlesArticleArticleArticleArticle examine characteristics of publications that may influence
comprehension or reader preference and also aspects of news media coverage
of medical research.
Articles on electronic publication report that journals that are completely
electronic were found to lack the qualitative and quantitative complexity
of traditional print journalsArticle; that use of the Internet varied widely among
patients and groups of clinicians, and awareness of some of the most rigorously
developed sources of information on the Internet was limitedArticle; and that despite
concerns about the potential harm associated with use of poor health information
on the Internet, few cases of harm are reported in the literatureArticle.
Godlee argues for replacing the current system of anonymous prepublication
peer review with open peer review.
Altman describes common methodologic errors and other weaknesses in
medical articles and suggests how journal editors can help improve research
For your patients: Information about medical journals.
This Week in JAMA . JAMA. 2002;287(21):2749. doi:10.1001/jama.287.21.2749