Do journals publish the best statistics?

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  • Author: Statistics Views
  • Date: 14 March 2013
  • Copyright: Image appears courtesy of iStock Photo

A recently published articlehas concluded that journals print better statistics than anywhere else, according to Scholarly Kitchen.

thumbnail image: Do journals publish the best statistics?

An article published in PLOS One has attempted to find this out but Scholarly Kitchen criticises its lack of statistical approach and accurate analysis in order to come to this conclusion, ironically the very subject the article is arguing against and does not test its own hypothesis thoroughly enough.

The nine journals included in the analysis were 2011 articles published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, Nature, Nature Medicine, Nature Neuroscience, Science, Journal of Experimental Psychology-Applied, Neuropsychology, and the American Journal of Public Health. Scholarly Kitchen points out the unfairness of such a list with some journals publishing less research than others and hence, charts with percentages on published papers is not ideal to compare and should have compared similar journals in order to achieve better statistical results.

According to Scholarly Kitchen ‘Three journals have more than 100 articles in the analysis, while two have fewer than 10…Specialty journals tend to publish longer articles with more detailed statistical analyses. The authors did not control for article length. No study design features were included — no differences were recorded or analyzed between epidemiological studies versus case-control studies versus double-blind randomized controlled studies. In short, the researchers have a motley sample of journals and papers indeed.'

Surprisingly, aside from the statistics included in the percentages, no other statistics are included and Scholarly Kitchen concludes that the paper does not meet PLOS ONE’s peer-review standard of “methodologically sound.”

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