Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 99–101 | Cite as

Research accomplishments that are too good to be true

  • John P. A. IoannidisEmail author
What's New in Intensive Care

We are all proud of successes in scientific research. Society at large expects to reap great benefits from these breakthroughs. However, sometimes research accomplishments are just too good to be true: single studies with extravagant results, investigators with too spectacular sudden changes in their career trajectory, or even whole scientific fields where exaggeration becomes a spurious norm. The boundaries between these three levels are hazy, because multiple single studies build investigator CVs and multiple investigators build scientific fields. How do we differentiate spurious success from true excellence? Let us examine a few vignettes of different situations.

Vignette 1: A famous professor states (verbatim) in his inaugural speech on being installed in a prestigious university: “The freedom we have in the design of our experiments is so enormous that when an experiment does not give us what we are looking for, we blame the experiment, not our theory. (At least, that is the way...


Legalistic Pressure Research Accomplishment Report Correlation Coefficient Hydroxylethyl Questionable Research Practice 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Conflicts of interest

The author declares that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg and ESICM 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medicine, Stanford Prevention Research CenterStanford University School of MedicineStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health Research and PolicyStanford University School of MedicineStanfordUSA
  3. 3.Department of StatisticsStanford University School of Humanities and SciencesStanfordUSA

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