Send to

Choose Destination
JAMA. 2002 Jun 5;287(21):2853-6.

Comparison of review articles published in peer-reviewed and throwaway journals.

Author information

Kunin-Lunenfeld Applied Research Unit, Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M6A 2E1.



To compare the quality, presentation, readability, and clinical relevance of review articles published in peer-reviewed and "throwaway" journals.


We reviewed articles that focused on the diagnosis or treatment of a medical condition published between January 1 and December 31, 1998, in the 5 leading peer-reviewed general medical journals and high-circulation throwaway journals. Reviewers independently assessed the methodologic and reporting quality, and evaluated each article's presentation and readability. Clinical relevance was evaluated independently by 6 physicians.


Of the 394 articles in our sample, 16 (4.1%) were peer-reviewed systematic reviews, 135 (34.3%) were peer-reviewed nonsystematic reviews, and 243 (61.7%) were nonsystematic reviews published in throwaway journals. The mean (SD) quality scores were highest for peer-reviewed articles (0.94 [0.09] for systematic reviews and 0.30 [0.19] for nonsystematic reviews) compared with throwaway journal articles (0.23 [0.03], F(2,391) = 280.8, P<.001). Throwaway journal articles used more tables (P =.02), figures (P =.01), photographs (P<.001), color (P<.001), and larger font sizes (P<.001) compared with peer-reviewed articles. Readability scores were more often in the college or higher range for peer-reviewed journals compared with the throwaway journal articles (104 [77.0%] vs 156 [64.2%]; P =.01). Peer-reviewed article titles were judged less relevant to clinical practice than throwaway journal article titles (P<.001).


Although lower in methodologic and reporting quality, review articles published in throwaway journals have characteristics that appeal to physician readers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems
Loading ...
Support Center