The Unreliability of Published Research

John Ioannidis, Stanford epidemiologist whose 2005 paper “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False” was a great contribution to the discipline of meta-research, or research about research, is founding a meta-research center called the Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford (METRICS).

Iain Chambers and Paul Glasziou, in their 2009 Lancet article Avoidable waste in the production and reporting of
research evidence
, estimated that 85% or more of the over $100 billion spent annually on biomedical research may be wasted due to factors including failure to assess important outcomes, inadequate measures to avoid bias (for instance, lack of double blinding), failure to publish disappointing results, and incomplete reporting (for instance, inadequate description of trial interventions).

The unreliability of published research is a critical issue. Anyone basing decisions on published research should be aware of the weaknesses of this foundation.