My enthusiasm for the work of Dr. John Ioannidis of Stanford is shared by Harold DeMonaco, one of our story reviewers on HealthNewsReview.org. DeMonaco submitted the following guest blog post, which I’m pleased to publish:
The headline of this post is a quote from a recent interview that Gary pointed to in a recent blog. If you are a journalist, Dr. Ioannidis’ interview is definitely worth reading. His quote is one that should be on your mind when you sit down to write a story about a recently published clinical study or press release from a manufacturer.
Critically evaluating the medical literature is not something that comes naturally. Having been at it for over forty years, I can attest that it is not easy to get it right. I frequently am asked to review submitted manuscripts for several medical journals. Having just completed a manuscript review, I think that it might be instructive to tell you what goes into the process.
I usually get an email from the editors of the journal asking if I would be willing to review a submitted manuscript. The editors usually choose a couple of reviewers they think can do the manuscript justice. And they give us three weeks in which to complete the process. And no, there is no remuneration other than a once a year acknowledgement in the journal of the reviewers. In those three weeks, you are expected to read and evaluate the submission, evaluate the subject population and methods, determine if the conclusions are supported by the data and finally to determine its value to the readers of the journal and make recommendations on changes. There are times when I think that I have spent more time in reviewing the manuscript than the authors did in writing it.
I should point out that no one gets any time way from their “day job” to conduct the review process. The review is conducted in what otherwise would be personal time. It is simply expected of you as a member of an academic center community.
I refer back to an article by Trisha Greenhalgh published in the British Medical Journal from time to time when I am reviewing a manuscript. Although it was written as a guide for practicing physicians, it offers some good advice for journalists. Here is the summary:
Publisher’s Note: Ioannidis appeared on a long-format radio talk show on Southern California Public Radio last week along with Ivan Oransky of Reuters Health. You can listen to the broadcast here.