The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 5th, 2015
Apparently, requiring scientists to state their objectives ahead of time makes a big difference.
Around 2000, the U.S. government ordered researchers conducting
clinical trials with federal money to announce ahead of time which
medical question they were hoping to answer.
Before then, 57 percent of large-budget trials for cardiovascular
disease attributed a positive effect to a drug or dietary supplement,
according to a study published on Wednesday. After the new requirement, the success rate dropped to just 8 percent, the study found.
The difference reflects a shift away from what had been a common
practice for scientists: combing through their data after a trial to
find correlations between drugs and patient outcomes. Often those
correlations might just randomly occur, said one of the study's authors,
Robert M. Kaplan, who is the chief science officer at the federal
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.