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J Psychol. 2002 Mar;136(2):141-8.

The accuracy of abstracts in psychology journals.

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School of Education, Stanford University, CA 94305, USA.


This article provides an empirically supported reminder of the importance of accuracy in scientific communication. The authors identify common types of inaccuracies in research abstracts and offer suggestions to improve abstract-article agreement. Abstracts accompanying 13% of a random sample of 400 research articles published in 8 American Psychological Association journals during 1997 and 1998 contained data or claims inconsistent with or missing from the body of the article. Error rates ranged from 8% to 18%, although between-journal differences were not significant. Many errors (63%) were unlikely to cause substantive misinterpretations. Unfortunately, 37% of errors found could be seriously misleading with respect to the data or claims presented in the associated article. Although deficient abstracts may be less common in psychology journals than in major medical journals (R. M. Pitkin, M. A. Branagan, & L. F. Burmeister, 1999), there is still cause for concern and need for improvement.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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