Trial methodology – is it small-print?

By: Simon Knight | Posted on: 23rd August 2013

As any regular reader of peer-reviewed journals will know, the most important section of any paper is the description of methods.  Without the information in the methods section it is almost impossible to interpret the results of a paper and determine whether the author’s conclusions are justified.  Indeed, it is often justifiable to bin a paper after reading the methods section alone, if the methods used are unsound!

Which is why I find the increasing trend for journals hiding the methods section at the end of the paper, after the conclusions, puzzling.  One such culprit is Transplantation journal, who moved the methods section to the end of the manuscript around a year ago.  It is therefore possible for the unwary reader to read the overstated justifications for the study, the possibly biased results and the even more biased conclusions without having to pay heed to the methodology at all.  Given the push towards evidence-based medicine and robust study design, surely we should be giving the methods more weight in the published literature rather than hiding them away in small-print with the references?


    Peter Morris says:

    I couldn’t agree more. This was discussed at the editors meeting last weekend and although there was probably a majority opinion supporting your view point it was felt we should leave this decision to the new Chief Editor starting in 2014.

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