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Why are industry funded studies published more?

Carl Heneghan
Last edited 26th May 2009

Tom Jefferson at the Cochrane Vaccine group publication in the BMJ on the role of funding and quality and publication is worth taking a look at. Analysing studies on vaccines from published systematic reviews, they asked the question of whether publication in prestigious journals is associated with industry funding.

Such pieces of work can be a test of attrition. Extracting data on 18 variables form 274 studies is not for the feint-hearted. Actually, if you are undertaking a systematic review you may want to look at a list of variables extracted, as they would make a good list for most therapy reviews. Also the assessment of quality pretty much aligns with the RAMMBo method used in the Centre.

What was concerning was what they found: industry studies were no better quality, were not bigger in size, but were more likely to be published. Also government funded studies were less likely to have conclusions favouring the vaccines. Begs the question of whether you’d be better off having a conflict of interest if you want to get published. The only solution I can see is for journals to declare their conflict of interests just like authors do.

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