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November 19, 2003

Registering Clinical Trials

Author Affiliations

Letters Section Editor: Stephen J. Lurie, MD, PhD, Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2003;290(19):2545. doi:10.1001/jama.290.19.2545-a

To the Editor: Drs Dickersin and Rennie1 stated that a comprehensive register of clinical trials would address the problem of publication bias. However, they omitted an important aspect of this problem. Every researcher has had the experience of a manuscript being rejected. This sometimes occurs with well-designed and well-executed studies with good data simply because the results were not considered to be newsworthy by journal editors. Although this is a hazard of academic medicine, it nevertheless should be noted that journals as well as researchers are responsible for publication bias. Therefore, if a future researcher or patient looking in a registry finds a clinical trial that otherwise seemed to have disappeared, the results may have been very important and close to the researcher's heart, but not to an editorial board of a medical journal.