Friday, September 21, 2007

Ingelfinger Again

Today I'm engaged in an interesting colloquy with Dr. Ben Goldacre, a physician and author of the always provocative Bad Science Blog.

In a blog post entitled The Joy of Ingelfingering Dr. Goldacre argues that embargoes and the Ingelfinger Rule are good things, and that journalists should refrain from publishing articles about research that has not been peer reviewed, and that when they write about peer-reviewed research they should include links to the full text of the original research paper.

I've written about the Ingelfinger Rule before, and I clearly disagree with Dr. Goldacre's conclusions, although his analysis is very interesting.

In the comments to Dr. Goldacre's post I asked him whether he'd prohibit coverage of medical conferences, considering that virtually no presentations are peer reviewed with full experimental details fully published. He replied that covering medical conferences could lead to inaccurate reporting about "turkeys." No argument there, but at some point we have to recognize that journalism is not meant to be the last word, only "the first draft of history."


Kjerstin said...

I completely agree with your conclusion. It's in the nature of newspaper reporting that information is given as it comes along, and that new information might turn up tomorrow. I think we're in trouble if we expect news media to provide us with the final word on every subject. That can never happen, especially with science.

Also, I think dr. Goldacre's position consolidates one of the problems with science reporting (one that he mentions in his post): That science is often badly suited to fill the ordinary news template. The Ingelfinger rule, in my opinion, strengthens the belief that science can only be reported in certain ways (typically under the headline "Science has shown that..."). Surely that's not the way to go in order to make science reporting more interesting and engaging.

Aubrey Blumsohn said...

Take a read of this.
The NMT scandal blows up in the UK

Ingelfinger indeed. Ingelfinger would be less laughable if the journals were actually credible.

Anyway this new scandal involves a meeting - but presumably this should not be reported because the sacndal is not peer reviewed (they never are)

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