Tag Archives: research

Homeopathy data dredging

Homeopathy does not work and can not work. The evidence is clear; and there is plenty of that evidence. It is no better than a placebo. Any ‘clinical’ effect of it is due to that placebo effect. I won’t get into it all the details here, but if you want more check this out: How Does Homeopathy work?.

That does not stop those who try to defraud the consumer with homeopathy from grasping at straws and coming up with implausible and improbable mechanisms as to how it might work (it doesn’t) and grasping at some badly done flawed studies published in a low or no impact factor journals, and ignore all the well done properly blinded and controlled studies published in high impact factor journals. And when that argument does not work, they come up with some sob story or special pleading that this is not the appropriate way to clinically test homeopathy (it is).

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Publication Rate of Conference Abstracts

Conferences presentations and in the conference abstract books there are often gems and lots of pearls of useful information. I often blog live from conferences (eg here and here) or peruse abstract books looking for gems (eg here and here). The problem with conference abstracts can be the lack of detail on the study to judge it and they are not subject to the same scrutiny of peer review that a full journal publication is; so how much weight in the grand scheme of things should a conference abstract be given? They have to be interpreted in that context of the lack of detail and the lack of peer review. There are examples I have seen where the preponderance of evidence on a topic may be altered to be in a different direction if the unpublished conference abstracts were included or not included in that body of evidence under consideration. That is a worry. A large number of conference abstracts never make it to full publications, despite they being ‘gems’ and would be a valuable addition to the body of peer reviewed literature on that topic.

Way back in 1999, I published this that looked at the publication rates of abstracts presented at the main diabetes conferences in Australia, Europe and the USA. The rates were 26%, 49% and 53%. At that time, those figures were pretty consistent with other disciplines. My attention was just brought back to this by this recent publication in Foot & Ankle International which looked at the publication rates from the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society meetings. They found it was 73.7% for podium presentations and 55.8% for posters. That is a bit better than the ~50% that I found and is often reported in the literature as a pretty typical publication rate reported.

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Who are these fan boys that one does speak about?

There is no doubt that I regularly poke fun at what I call the “fan boys”, or more correctly the “fan boi’s”, in blog posts and lectures. It is hard not to resist those who paint such targets on themselves. I have had some enquiries as to who are these “fan boys” (and not to mention, the “fan girls”). This what I wrote elsewhere about what a “fan boy” is:

A fan boy (or fan boi) is a slang term for someone who is considered very devoted to a single subject, often to the point where it might be considered an obsession. It is a term reserved for when the obsession or passion is beyond what just being a typical fan might be considered as being.

Traditionally they were a passionate fan of something in geek culture such as a sci-fi genre, comics or specific video games, but more recently it has been expanded to include non-geek niches. It is also considered to be a type of insult or put down and is somewhat derogatory.

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Sometimes academics do overthink things

I have to be careful what I say here as I am criticizing my professional colleagues, but …

A while back there was this a couple of studies on proximal changes in those with Achilles tendinopathy. I blogged about one of them here and the other one is here. Both studies found those with Achilles tendinopathy did have change in proximal function such as muscle activity and hip motion. Both studies did lead the author to discuss the role of the proximal structures in Achilles tendinopathy. This lead to responses in social media on how important the hip and core are and that we need to focus the treatment interventions there. This was despite that this is not what the studies showed as correlation is not causation.

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If you are going to comment on research studies in social media…

…please read and understand the study first. Don’t embarrass yourself by just commentting based on the what you think the title of the study means.

For example, this recent study was published. The study investigated outcomes of clubfoot treatment to see if immediate or delayed treatment affected outcomes. Of the 176 cases they reviewed, the age at presentation did not affect the outcome (except for the issue of cast slippage).

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Within group vs between group analysis of trial data and the way too many studies get it wrong

In my takedown analysis in the last post of two papers on morton’s neuroma, I pointed out that both studies were analysed wrong and that this should have been pulled up in the pre-publication peer review process and it wasn’t. Also, in my other blog I pulled up a number of studies on the same issue.

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