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Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2004 Oct;158(10):983-7.

Factors influencing the publication of randomized controlled trials in child health research.

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Alberta Research Centre for Child Health Evidence, Department of Pediatrics, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.



Publication bias threatens the validity of clinical decisions. The root causes are relatively unknown, and there is limited investigation in child research literature.


To identify factors associated with subsequent nonpublication of abstracts presented at the Society for Pediatric Research meetings, and to determine the relative importance of the reasons identified for nonpublication.


A cross-sectional survey was used to ask researchers about their reasons for the selective publication of randomized controlled trials (RCTs). The authors of 393 RCTs presented at the Society for Pediatric Research meetings from 1992 to 1995 were surveyed. A modified Total Design Method for mail surveys was used, with a reminder sent to all potential respondents 1 week after the initial mailing and full mailings sent to nonrespondents at 3 and 10 weeks following the initial mailing.


One hundred sixty-six (45%) completed surveys were returned, and 119 (72%) abstracts were published as full manuscripts. Factors significantly associated with nonpublication identified through multiple logistic regression were the respondent's report of scientific merit and significance of results. Of the 47 studies that were not published, only 8 (17%) had been submitted for publication. Authors of unpublished studies identified the following as important reasons for not publishing: not enough time (56.4 responded important or very important); trouble with coauthors (28.9); and journal unlikely to accept (26.3).


Of the RCTs presented and not subsequently published, the majority (83%) were never submitted for publication. The most common reason cited by authors for nonpublication was lack of time.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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