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Med Law. 2007 Sep;26(3):511-25.

"Spin" in scientific writing: scientific mischief and legal jeopardy.

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Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


In science, the data are supposed to speak for themselves. However, investigators have great latitude in how they report their results in the medical literature, even in an era of research protocols, pre-specified endpoints, reporting guidelines, and rigorous peer review. Authors' personal agendas, such as financial, personal, and intellectual conflicts of interest, can and sometimes do color how research results are described. Articles in peer-reviewed medical journals are the evidence base not only for the care of patients but also for legal decisions and the scientific record may be tailored for legal reasons as well. Journal editors preside over where and how the results of scientific research are published. We therefore suggest some actions that editors can take to foster a more trustworthy evidence base both for the care of patients and for legal decisions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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