How poor reporting affects you
Poor reporting creates waste on the same appalling scale at every level of health research. As the volume of health-related literature continues to explode:
- Academics keeping up with the literature are wasting their time reading published bad reports – you don’t know it’s bad until you’ve read it
- Editors are wasting their time processing bad reports that will be published, but won’t contribute to their journal
- Journals are wasting space and resources on bad reports that cannot be used in systematic reviews and thus are less likely to (and should not!) be cited
- Clinicians are unknowingly using bad reports to determine patients’ care
Medical research makes prominent headlines because it explicitly affects people’s lives. However, clinical decision-making should only be informed by good evidence. Good evidence is published accurately, completely, and in a timely fashion; then processed into systematic reviews and clinical practice guidelines. Good evidence can only come from GoodReports.
A coordinated effort by all parties involved in the different aspects of health-related research is urgently needed to ensure that the literature is populated with good evidence untainted by bad reporting. Journals play an indispensable role in disseminating research findings and are on the front line of quality assurance. Journal publishers and editors have the power to improve the quality of published evidence and substantially increase its use.