Exactly when and how findings from medical research studies should be
disseminated to clinicians, other researchers, and the public is a critically
important yet contentious issue.1- 4
The tradeoffs between expediency and ensuring quality and accuracy have long
been recognized and debated but have come under increasing attention recently,
particularly with the use of electronic media for communication of medical
research findings. Medical researchers, especially those involved in major
studies, usually want to communicate the results of their research as widely
and as quickly as possible. Journalists, well aware of the public's "right
to know" and seemingly insatiable desire for information about health and
medicine, are interested in promptly reporting medical news, especially about
potential "breakthrough" research findings. However, journal editors, responsible
for ensuring that the scientific information they publish is assessed for
quality by peer review and editorial evaluation, generally discourage prepublication
release so that the entire study, with full methods and results as well as
proper caveats, can be appropriately evaluated and interpreted.
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