News & CommentEpidemiology

A Plan to Register Unpublished Studies

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Science  19 Sep 1997:
Vol. 277, Issue 5333, pp. 1754
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5333.1754

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It is considered one of the insidious problems in clinical research: Researchers tend to publish the results of trials that show an intervention works, but they often don't submit results that are inconclusive or negative. As a result, reviews of the literature to determine the efficacy of a particular treatment or preventive measure are likely to be biased. Now, the editors of 100 journals around the world have proposed a novel way to deal with this problem: They are asking researchers to register the existence of trials they have completed but never published. The registry would be posted on the World Wide Web, so researchers reviewing the literature on a treatment could track down unpublished results to see if they should be included in the review.