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Medical journal’s critics say it should share more data

Critics of the New England Journal of Medicine say it's not transparent enough. PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay

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The nation’s most storied medical journal is facing criticism for failing to share enough data and for the way it handles errors. Those raising questions say the New England Journal of Medicine’s editorial policies make it less dependable than in the past.   

This is a fight over how to deliver the most reliable medical information.

Critics accuse the New England Journal of adopting a “Journal-knows-best” attitude, where its editors make it more difficult for outsiders to weigh in on studies.

“When I read a study, I want to know — at the very least — the data are available for someone who is qualified to check that work,” said Ivan Oransky, co-founder of Retraction Watch, which monitors scientific research.

Some want the Journal to be more like the BMJ – formerly the British Medical Journal.

Starting last year, BMJ made authors share relevant data for clinical trials.

The New England Journal’s Editor-in-Chief Dr. Jeffrey Drazen says he’s working to improve data sharing and believes the Journal meets 21st century demands for speed, access and transparency.  

“We’re continuously trying to find new ways to communicate information that gets the essence of what is important across, without the risk of any kind of misinterpretation,” he said.

Medical research, particularly medical research found within the NEJM, involves information that doctors, lawmakers and patients rely on to make important and difficult decisions. That’s why this debate matters.

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