Paul L. Caron
Dean


Thursday, August 22, 2019

Abstract 'Spin': Nearly Half Of All Scholars Exaggerate Their Papers' Findings

Inside Higher Ed, Abstract ‘Spin’:

We’ve all been told not to judge a book by its cover. But we shouldn’t be judging academic studies by their abstracts, either, according to a new paper in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine [Evaluation of Spin in Abstracts of Papers in Psychiatry and Psychology Journals]. The study — which found exaggerated claims in more than half of paper abstracts analyzed — pertains to psychology and psychiatry research. It notes that “spin” is troublesome in those fields because it can impact clinical care decisions. But the authors say that this kind of exaggeration happens in other fields, too.

“Researchers are encouraged to conduct studies and report findings according to the highest ethical standards,” the paper says, meaning “reporting results completely, in accordance with a protocol that outlines primary and secondary endpoints and prespecified subgroups and statistical analyses.”

Yet authors are free to choose “how to report or interpret study results.” And in an abstract, in particular, they may include “only the results they want to highlight or the conclusions they wish to draw.” ...

How often did articles’ abstracts exaggerate the actual findings? More than half the time, or 56 percent. Spin happened in 2 percent of titles, 21 percent of abstract results sections and 49 percent of abstract conclusion sections. Fifteen percent of abstracts had spin in both their results and conclusion sections.

In a word: spin. ...

How often did articles’ abstracts exaggerate the actual findings? More than half the time, or 56 percent. Spin happened in 2 percent of titles, 21 percent of abstract results sections and 49 percent of abstract conclusion sections. Fifteen percent of abstracts had spin in both their results and conclusion sections.

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2019/08/abstract-spin-nearly-half-of-all-scholars-exaggerate-their-papers-findings.html

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