Context Investigation of the nature and frequency of statistician involvement
in medical research and its relation to the final editorial decision.
Methods Authors of original research articles who submitted to BMJ and Annals of Internal Medicine from May
through August 2001 were sent a short questionnaire at the time of manuscript
submission. Authors were asked if they received assistance from a person with
statistical expertise, the nature of any such contribution, and reasons why,
if no statistical input was received.
Results The response rate was 75% (704/943); methodological input was reported
for 514 (73%) of these papers. In 435 papers (85%), such input was provided
by biostatisticians or epidemiologists and, if deemed significant, was typically
associated with authorship. A total of 33 of 122 methodologists (27%) whose
main contribution started at the analysis stage received neither acknowledgment
nor authorship. Research without methodological assistance was more likely
to be rejected without review (71% vs 57%; χ2 = 10.6; P = .001) and possibly less likely to be accepted for publication
(7% vs 11%; χ2 = 2.37; P = .12).
Conclusions Statistical input to medical research is widely recommended but inconsistently
obtained. Individuals providing such expertise are often not involved until
the analysis of data and many go unrecognized by either authorship or acknowledgment.