Doctor: Mona Ghannad

Title: Suboptimal reporting practices in biomedical research

Supervisors: Patrick Bossuyt, Isabelle Boutron

Doctoral school: ED 393 Epidemiology and Biomedical Information Sciences, Université Paris Cité

Date of thesis defense: 09/07/2021

Jury: I. Spuls, F. Miedema, K.M. Smits, M. McInnes, G. Collins, M. Chalumeau, P.M.M. Bossuyt, I.Boutron


Responsible research practices and fair reporting is an element of research integrity. Articles published in The Lancet illustrated the problem of waste during various stages of research encompassing design, conduct and reporting. Given that much of this waste is avoidable, there is a need to develop and implement remedies. Of these, accurate interpretation and presentation of results in published data is essential in order to avoid producing misleading studies and waste valuable resources.
The concept of “spin” has been investigated in scientific communications, defined as a way of reporting, not necessarily intentional, “that fails to faithfully reflect the nature and range of findings and that could affect the impression that the results produce in readers”, i.e., a way to distort science reporting without actually lying.
The overarching aim of this PhD project was to identify and document suboptimal reporting practices in published reports and to suggest preferred strategies to overcome these. Through the research work presented in this thesis, we explored three key topics: (1) suboptimal reporting practices, such as mis-representation and over-interpretation of study findings (also known as spin) and inadequate study design or methods, in diagnostic/prognostic biomarker studies and randomized trials; (2) a proposed strategy aimed at reducing spin by conducting a collaborative field trial at The BMJ publishing group (London, UK); and (3) other aspects of suboptimal reporting practices and challenges in publication and dissemination of biomedical research.
Our work builds on a growing number of research publications on research misconduct and misbehaviours, commonly named “questionable research practices”.

Link to download the thesis

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