Bias in research and conflict of interest: why should we care?
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Medical journals are a prime source of professional information for doctors and have a major impact on patient care. Editors and authors are, even more so than the practising clinician, trustees of the public good. Our role is to provide information that is as ‘true’ as we can make it. To this purpose, it is imperative that bias in published research be reduced as far as possible. In fact, “the entire infrastructure of science [...] is built on the fundamental notion of eliminating, or at least controlling for, [...] bias” . In therapeutic medicine, the double-blind multicentre randomised controlled trial (RCT) is seen as the ‘gold standard’ of bias reduction—developed in response to higher scientific and regulatory standards and to fulfil the precepts of evidence-based medicine.
Unfortunately, it is precisely the therapeutic multicentre RCTs that are subject to the most powerful form of bias in modern medicine because the great majority of such trials are now (as opposed to...
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