Medical Research, Medical Journals and the Public Interest

By Relman, Arnold S. | Journal of the Society of Research Administrators, Fall 1989 | Go to article overview

Medical Research, Medical Journals and the Public Interest


Relman, Arnold S., Journal of the Society of Research Administrators


MEDICAL RESEARCH, MEDICAL JOURNALS AND THE PUBLIC INTEREST

The health of medical research is essential to the health of the American people and of the world. Without a broadly based vigorous program of research in basic science and applied clinical science, there is no progress. Everything we know now, everything that we can do, everything that medicine has to offer in the way of improving health is based on research. Everything that we hope to achieve in the future, dealing with all the terrible health problems all over the world, depends on progress in research. Those who imagine that we can get along without supporting medical research are deluding themselves.

Medical research is an enterprise that is carried out in many kinds of institutions by many kinds of people, with various kinds of support. Important research is done in academic institutions, government institutions, and independent research institutions. Regardless of institution, the process is the same. It begins with investigators getting an idea. And, if they have the resources, they investigate that idea; they begin to carry out experiments. The experiments may change the hypothesis on which the research was based. The initial experiments may indicate that the idea was wrong, and they have to go off in another direction. Or they may get some fruitful results, but then, because of what happens later on, the direction of the research may change. But sooner or later, with any luck, they have some data that they think mean something, and they try to draw some conclusions. They talk to their colleagues; they discuss their work at seminars and private meetings that are held among the scientists working in the field. As a result of those discussions, their ideas may change, and in comparing notes with colleagues they may learn something that causes them to change what they are doing--perhaps to drop one line of investigation to try another. They may be asked to present their work at a local or international scientific meeting. At the time the work is presented, it may be finished and ready to be written up and reported in the medical literature or it may still be in progress.

Scientific meetings, then, are simply occasions for working scientists to talk to one another. More than half of the papers reported at medical scientific meetings never get published, i.e., the work never comes to fruition. Why? Because it turns out that the original interpretations were wrong, the methods weren't appropriate or, as the result of further work, the conclusions presented at the meeting were not quite correct. This fact should not be a cause for concern, since science is based on corrections of error and testing of hypotheses. Those misinformed bureaucrats who think that they have to police science to eliminate error, or who confuse error with fraud, don't understand that science advances through the postulation of hypotheses which may turn out to be right or wrong; collection of data, which may be adequate or inadequate; correction, discussion, and rigorous criticism of the data and the postulates; postulation of new ideas; collection of additional data; and so on in a continuing process. The point is that the best available information is often simply a way-station to the ultimate answer. One never knows in advance what the answer is because, often, as methods change and ideas change, new information becomes available and new insights are put forward.

At some juncture, however, a working scientist decides that there are enough data to fit the story together. The scientist then writes it up in the form of a research report to submit, usually to a peer-reviewed journal. Then the journal editors send that paper out to experts in the field for criticism and review. At The New England Journal of Medicine our custom is to send manuscripts to at least two experts in the field--recognized authorities who are working on that subject themselves. If the manuscript contains numerical or statistical analysis, we always add a third reviewer who is a biostatistician or epidemiologist. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Medical Research, Medical Journals and the Public Interest
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.