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Concept: Publication bias


The peer review process is a cornerstone of biomedical research publications. However, it may fail to allow the publication of high-quality articles. We aimed to identify and sort, according to their importance, all tasks that are expected from peer reviewers when evaluating a manuscript reporting the results of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) and to determine which of these tasks are clearly requested by editors in their recommendations to peer reviewers.

Concepts: Scientific method, Randomized controlled trial, Academic publishing, Medical research, Peer review, Review, Publication bias, Orphan drug


Several studies suggest that there are relations between children’s or adolescents' self-injurious behaviors and peer victimization. In the current study, a meta-analysis was performed to study the relations between non-suicidal self-injury and peer victimization. Non-suicidal self-injury focuses on self-injurious behaviors without suicidal intent, that result in immediate tissue damage and are not socially sanctioned within one’s culture or for display. Using a meta-analysis, effect sizes of existing studies can be statistically summarized, and publication bias and moderators can be analyzed. The databases PsycINFO, MEDLINE, ERIC and ProQuest were searched for relevant articles. Articles were only included if they focused on children or adolescents, if they focused on non-clinical samples, and if they focused on self-injuring behaviors as opposed to thoughts or ideation. We found nine studies with fourteen independent samples and a total of 20,898 adolescents and children reporting on the relation between peer victimization and non-suicidal self-injury. Our analysis showed positive and significant relations between non-suicidal self-injury and peer victimization. Further analyses showed an absence of publication bias. Younger children that were victimized reported significantly more non-suicidal self-injury than older children. By preventing peer victimization we may potentially prevent non-suicidal self-injury in children and adolescents.

Concepts: Effect size, Meta-analysis, Publication bias, Self-harm, Suicide, Self-injury Awareness Day


Publication bias jeopardizes evidence-based medicine, mainly through biased literature syntheses. Publication bias may also affect laboratory animal research, but evidence is scarce.

Concepts: The Canon of Medicine, Evidence-based medicine, Systematic review, Avicenna, Academic publishing, Alternative medicine, Meta-analysis, Publication bias


Randomised trials are a central component of all evidence-informed health care systems and the evidence coming from them helps to support health care users, health professionals and others to make more informed decisions about treatment. The evidence available to trialists to support decisions on design, conduct and reporting of randomised trials is, however, sparse. Trial Forge is an initiative that aims to increase the evidence base for trial decision-making and in doing so, to improve trial efficiency.One way to fill gaps in evidence is to run Studies Within A Trial, or SWATs. This guidance document provides a brief definition of SWATs, an explanation of why they are important and some practical ‘top tips’ that come from existing experience of doing SWATs. We hope the guidance will be useful to trialists, methodologists, funders, approvals agencies and others in making clear what a SWAT is, as well as what is involved in doing one.

Concepts: Health care, Health economics, Medicine, Healthcare, Randomized controlled trial, Avicenna, The Trial, Publication bias


The glucose view of self-control posited glucose as the physiological substrate of self-control “resource”, which results in three direct corollaries: 1) engaging in a specific self-control activity would result in reduced glucose level; 2) the remaining glucose level after initial exertion of self-control would be positively correlated with following self-control performance; 3) restoring glucose by ingestion would help to improve the impaired self-control performance. The current research conducted a meta-analysis to test how well each of the three corollaries of the glucose view would be empirically supported. We also tested the restoring effect of glucose rinsing on subsequent self-control performance after initial exertion. The results provided clear and consistent evidence against the glucose view of self-control such that none of the three corollaries was supported. In contrast, the effect of glucose rinsing turned out to be significant, but with alarming signs of publication bias. The implications and future directions are discussed.

Concepts: Enzyme, Evidence-based medicine, Systematic review, Effect size, Meta-analysis, Publication bias, Andrew Martin, Selection bias


The peer review process is a cornerstone of biomedical research. We aimed to evaluate the impact of interventions to improve the quality of peer review for biomedical publications.

Concepts: Scientific method, Academic publishing, Science, Medical research, Peer review, Review, Publication bias, Nature


How should we approach trial design when we can get some, but not all, of the way to the numbers required for a randomised phase III trial?We present an ordered framework for designing randomised trials to address the problem when the ideal sample size is considered larger than the number of participants that can be recruited in a reasonable time frame. Staying with the frequentist approach that is well accepted and understood in large trials, we propose a framework that includes small alterations to the design parameters. These aim to increase the numbers achievable and also potentially reduce the sample size target. The first step should always be to attempt to extend collaborations, consider broadening eligibility criteria and increase the accrual time or follow-up time. The second set of ordered considerations are the choice of research arm, outcome measures, power and target effect. If the revised design is still not feasible, in the third step we propose moving from two- to one-sided significance tests, changing the type I error rate, using covariate information at the design stage, re-randomising patients and borrowing external information.We discuss the benefits of some of these possible changes and warn against others. We illustrate, with a worked example based on the Euramos-1 trial, the application of this framework in designing a trial that is feasible, while still providing a good evidence base to evaluate a research treatment.This framework would allow appropriate evaluation of treatments when large-scale phase III trials are not possible, but where the need for high-quality randomised data is as pressing as it is for common diseases.

Concepts: Time, Clinical trial, Randomized controlled trial, Statistical significance,, Publication bias, Graphic design, Grammatical number


Pain is multi-dimensional and may be better addressed through a holistic, biopsychosocial approach. Massage therapy is commonly practiced among patients seeking pain management; however, its efficacy is unclear. This systematic review and meta-analysis is the first to rigorously assess the quality of the evidence for massage therapy’s efficacy in treating pain, function-related, and health-related quality of life outcomes in surgical pain populations.

Concepts: Medicine, Epidemiology, Evaluation, Evidence-based medicine, Systematic review, Randomized controlled trial, Meta-analysis, Publication bias


Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) are essential for evidence-based medicine and increasingly rely on front-line clinicians to recruit eligible patients. Clinicians' difficulties with negotiating equipoise is assumed to undermine recruitment, although these issues have not yet been empirically investigated in the context of observable events. We aimed to investigate how clinicians conveyed equipoise during RCT recruitment appointments across six RCTs, with a view to (i) identifying practices that supported or hindered equipoise communication and (ii) exploring how clinicians' reported intentions compared with their actual practices.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Informed consent, The Canon of Medicine, Randomized controlled trial, Avicenna,, Evaluation methods, Publication bias


Meta-analyses play an important role in cumulative science by combining information across multiple studies and attempting to provide effect size estimates corrected for publication bias. Research on the reproducibility of meta-analyses reveals that errors are common, and the percentage of effect size calculations that cannot be reproduced is much higher than is desirable. Furthermore, the flexibility in inclusion criteria when performing a meta-analysis, combined with the many conflicting conclusions drawn by meta-analyses of the same set of studies performed by different researchers, has led some people to doubt whether meta-analyses can provide objective conclusions.

Concepts: Scientific method, Research methods, Academic publishing, Effect size, Meta-analysis, Publication bias, Play, Gene V. Glass