Fernandez-Taylor et al. (1) invited the Editors-in-Chief and statistical reviewers of the 38 medical journals with the highest impact factor in the 2007 Science Journal Citation Report and Social Science Journal Citation to complete an online survey about the statistical and design problems. Twenty-five editors and statistical reviewers from 20 journals responded.

The responses were classified into statistical and sampling issues:

1. Inappropriate or incomplete analysis, including violations of model assumptions and analysis errors,
2. Uninformed use of propensity scores
3. Failing to account for clustering in data analysis
4. Improperly addressing missing data
5. Power/sample size concerns.

and inadequate reporting:

1. Inadequate description of the methods and analysis
2. Misstatement of results, including undue emphasis on p-values and incorrect inferences and interpretations.

The authors conclude that the scientific quality of submitted manuscripts would increase if researchers addressed common design, analytical, and reporting issues, and that improving the application and presentation of quantitative methods in scholarly manuscripts is essential to advancing medical research.

References

1. Fernandes-Taylor S, Hyun JK, Reeder RN, Harris AH. Common statistical and research design problems in manuscripts submitted to high-impact medical journals. BMC Res Notes 2011;4:304.