While medical research is the best source of information on which to guide treatment of health issues, fraudulent studies are an issue. Such research can skew the evidence base and even lead to harm, as well as damage trust in the scientific process.
Our Senior Research Integrity Editor, Lisa Bero, has recently written about this phenomenon in The Conversation US. In the article, she describes how systematic reviewers can be part of the solution and help to find such problematic studies. She also discusses research which she, Stephanie Boughton of the Cochrane Research Integrity team, and others have carried out about this.
“Cochrane is actively involved in research and advocacy to promote independence, transparency, and integrity in healthcare research. While most research follows rigorous standards, studies with fake or fatally flawed findings are sometimes published. Cochrane and other systematic reviewers are in a unique position to be able to find and draw attention to these types of studies.”
What is Cochrane doing about this issue?
Cochrane has a policy in place that helps our reviewers spot problematic studies and decide what research to include and what to exclude in new reviews. When problems with medical research are so serious that the studies have to be withdrawn from publication, Cochrane also encourages our reviewers to go and back and mark where these studies have been included in reviews and, where necessary, update, amend or even withdrawn the review.