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August 15, 1980

A Rogue's Gallery of Medical Manuscripts

JAMA. 1980;244(7):700-701. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03310070050034

Poorly written and executed clinical studies, like boomerangs and bad pennies, turn up just when you think you have gotten rid of them. Fortunately, bad research is usually detected and rapidly rejected by competent medical editors. More dangerous to conscientious physicians wishing to keep abreast of medical developments are the clinical articles artfully crafted to confuse and mislead the reader. On the surface such manuscripts may be attractive, well written, and convincing. Often they are authored by leading clinical researchers with impressive academic affiliations. They may be accepted by prestigious journals. Yet, these articles befuddle clinicians and turn the already confused medical literature into a morass. To alert our readers I have compiled a partial list of the types of identifiable outlaw manuscripts.

The CLONE arises from a small part of a large, controlled study. An author uses the same data base to study dozens of closely related questions. Rather