As part of the UCL Biostatistics Network, we have what sounds like a very good seminar lined up for next week (Tuesday 11th December, 4pm; Drayton B20 Jevons Lecture Theatre $-$ you can find a map here).
The speaker is Stephen Senn; I've seen him speak a few times and he is just really, really good!
Title: Bad JAMA?
Speaker: Stephen Senn
"But to be kind, for the sake of completeness, and because industry and researchers are so keen to pass the blame on to academic journals, we can see if the claim is true….Here again the journals seem blameless: 74 manuscripts submitted to the Journal of the American Association (JAMA) were followed up, and there was no difference in acceptance for significant and non-significant findings." (Bad Pharma, p34). A central argument in Ben Goldacre's recent book Bad Pharma is that although trials with negative results are less likely to be published than trials with positive results, the medical journals are blameless: they are just as likely to publish either. I show, however, that this is based on a misreading of the literature and would rely, for its truth, on an assumption that is not only implausible but known to be false, namely that authors are just as likely to submit negative as positive studies. I show that a completely different approach to analysing the data has be used: one which compares accepted papers in terms of quality. When this is done, what studies have been performed, do, in fact, show that there is a bias against negative studies. This explains the apparent inconsistency in results between observational and experimental studies of publication bias.