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June 24, 2013

Assessing Research Results in the Medical Literature: Trust but Verify

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Duke Translational Medicine Institute and the Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center (Dr Califf), and Duke Clinical Research Institute (Mr McCall), Duke University, Durham, North Carolina; and Department of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California (Dr Harrington).

JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(12):1053-1055. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.829

Clinical research should contribute to a generalizable body of evidence that can guide decisions about clinical practice, personal health, and health policies. Recently, however, the integrity of the results disseminated in the biomedical literature has been questioned. Critics point to selective omission of important findings from articles1 and fundamental inaccuracies in those that are published.2 Particular scrutiny has been applied to financial conflicts of interest associated with industry-funded research. Such concerns are legitimate; however, a narrow focus on funding sources may not illuminate the most relevant issues. For all research, the cardinal principle should be “trust but verify.”

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