Last month was all about the controversy over the Cochrane HPV vaccine review. This review, it turned out to have an unexpected back story - causing turmoil at the Cochrane Collaboration.Two more posts at Absolutely Maybe:

Boilover: The Cochrane HPV Vaccine Fire isn't Really About Evidence - but it's Critical to Science

Scientific Advocacy and Biases of the Ideological and Industry Kinds

And I kept tracking developments here at this website.




First post for the month was at Absolutely Maybe, about a major development open access: Europe Expanded the "No Elsevier Deal" Zone & This Could Change Everything.

Then the month was all about trials and systematic reviews of trials.

First up, a new post after a long hiatus at Statistically Funny: Clinical Trials - More Blinding, Less Worry! It's a big topic - and there are so many different ways that bias could creep through the cracks here, that it's worth re-visiting the basics.

With that post, I now had enough background to tackle Clinical Trial Critique 101 at Absolutely Maybe. A recent trial on yoga and depression was a good example to work with there.

Then August was all about the HPV vaccine. A scathing critique of the Cochrane Collaboration's systematic review and meta-analysis got a lot of attention. It shocked me until I dug deeper and discovered how implausible - and sometimes just plain wrong - this critique was. More at Absolutely Maybe - The HPV Vaccine: A Critique of a Critique of a Meta-Analysis.

The conversation after that post made me realize that there were lots of misconceptions about when we would be able to know if the cervical cancer was dropping - and that I didn't really know how the results from the trials would pan out in real life. The result was growing excitement about what this vaccine might be achieving, and a second post - The HPV Vaccine Should be Preventing Cervical Cancer: How Can We Tell Whether It Actually Is?

As this is a continuing saga, I started a post to keep the threads of what happens next together:

The HPV Vaccine & Manufactured Controversy: Tracking the Critique of the Cochrane Review & the Evidence.




First up for May at Absolutely Maybe - An Author Rights Perspective on Scientific Editors. My top 6 core rights for which editors have responsibility. Starting with the right to not have your manuscript made worse!

More for authors next: a quick checklist for Building a Great Scientific Abstract. It's the most-read part of an article - it should never be a rushed afterthought, be misleading, or spin results.

I was delighted to participate in the wonderful bi-annual Research Reproducibility Conference held by the Eccles Library at the University of Utah in June. As well as talking at the pre-conference reproducibility workshop, I participated in a panel on calling out non-reproducible science, with Ivan Oransky from Retraction Watch, and Ed Dudek from the University of Utah, moderated by Scott Aberegg. (It's on YouTube - our panel starts at 5 hours 54 minutes.)

The most influential trial of the Mediterranean diet was retracted, then republished - with a toned-down conclusion. My take: What Does the PREDIMED Trial Retraction & Reboot Mean for the Mediterranean Diet? And more, in an invited opinion at BMJ: A Mediterranean diet trial's retraction and republication leaves a trail of questions.

And a post at Absolutely Maybe: Can We Science Our Way Out of the Reproducibility Crisis?





All That Meta-Analysis Backlash! In which I disagree with another spate of articles dissing systematic reviews and meta-analyses as a research type.

And my less-than-hellishly-complicated tips for weeding out lower quality ones - Systematic Reviews & Meta-Analyses: A 5-Step Checkup.




This month I tackled a few arguments that frustrate me. The first is arguing that signing peer reviews is risky for early career researchers, so we shouldn't have fully open peer review. Posted at Absolutely Maybe, Signing critical peer reviews & the fear of retaliation: what should we do?

The second is the argument that author processing charges aren't a big barrier to open access publishing, because most open access journals don't have them: A Reality Check on Author Access to Open Access Publishing.




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