Study: Published research often is false
A recent study suggests false findings are often evident in published modern research.
John Ioannidis of Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston and the University of Ioannina's School of Medicine in Greece said, "There's increasing concern that in modern research, false findings may be the majority or even the vast majority of published research claims."
In his analysis, Ioannidis identified actors he believes lead to false research findings.
One such factor is that many research studies are small. "The smaller the studies conducted in a scientific field, the less likely the research findings are to be true," said Ioannidis.
Another problem is that in many scientific fields, the "effect sizes" are small. "Effect size" measures how much a risk factor, such as smoking, increases a person's risk of disease.
Financial and other interests and prejudices can also lead to untrue results. And he said the more scientific teams involved in a study, the less likely the research findings are to be true, noting that might explain why there is often "major excitement followed rapidly by severe disappointments in fields that draw wide attention."
The study appears in the open access international medical journal PLoS Medicine.
Copyright 2005 by United Press International