Publish or be damned
Ben Goldacre points out the indefensible practice of announcing conclusions from research studies which haven’t been published.Key Concepts addressed:
Ben Goldacre, Thursday August 4 2005, The Guardian
I have a very long memory. So often with “science by press release”, newspapers will cover a story, even though the scientific paper doesn’t exist, assuming it’s around the corner. In February 2004, the Daily Mail was saying that cod liver oil is “nature’s superdrug”. The Independent wrote: “They’re not yet saying it can enable you to stop a bullet or leap tall buildings, but it’s not far short of that.” These glowing stories were based on a press release from Cardiff University, describing a study looking at the effect of cod liver oil on some enzymes – no idea which – that have something to do with cartilage – no idea what. I had no way of knowing whether the study was significant, valid or reliable. Nobody did, because it wasn’t published. No methods, results, conclusions to appraise. Nothing.