Are there too many meta-analyses in biomedical research?

Neuroskeptic discusses a paper which states that rates of publication of meta-analyses and systematic reviews in PubMed are growing exponentially.

Paper author Giovanni Tebala concludes that if the trend continues then “in the future we will have a growing number of synthetic studies utilizing someone else’s original data and fewer raw data to base our knowledge upon” 1.

Neuroskeptic believes that the growth in meta-analyses identified by Tebala could be a significant problem. The scientific literature would become ‘top heavy’, with a large amount of interpretation and analysis based on a limited amount of evidence.

However, in an update to the article, Neuroskeptic reports that a flaw had been found in Tebala’s methodology. Repeating Tebala’s analysis with an improved methodology found that the rates in growth of meta-analyses and systematic reviews are not as bad as Tebala reported.

  1. Tebala GD (2015). What is the future of biomedical research? Medical Hypotheses PMID: 26194725

Bruce Boyes

Bruce Boyes (www.bruceboyes.info) is editor, lead writer, and a director of the award-winning RealKM Magazine (www.realkm.com) and currently also teaches in the University of NSW (UNSW) Foundation Studies program in China. He has expertise and experience in a wide range of areas including knowledge management (KM), environmental management, program and project management, writing and editing, stakeholder engagement, communications, and research. Bruce holds a Master of Environmental Management with Distinction and a Certificate of Technology (Electronics). With a demonstrated ability to identify and implement innovative solutions to social and ecological complexity, Bruce's many career highlights include establishing RealKM Magazine as an award-winning resource for knowledge managers, using agile and knowledge management approaches to oversee the implementation of an award-winning $77.4 million river recovery program in western Sydney on time and under budget, leading a knowledge strategy process for Australia's 56 natural resource management (NRM) regional organisations, pioneering collaborative learning and governance approaches to support communities to sustainably manage landscapes and catchments, and initiating and teaching two new knowledge management subjects at Shanxi University in China.

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