Time to assume that health research is fraudulent until proven otherwise?
Health professionals and journal editors reading the results of a clinical trial assume that the trial happened and that the results were honestly reported. As I've been concerned about research fraud for 40 years, I wasn't that surprised as many would be by this figure, but it led me to think that the time may have come to stop assuming that research actually happened and is honestly reported, and assume that the research is fraudulent until there is some evidence to support it having happened and been honestly reported. None of the co-authors had contributed patients to the trials, and some didn't know that they were co-authors until after the trials were published. We have long known that peer review is ineffective at detecting fraud, especially if the reviewers start, as most have until now, by assuming that the research is honestly reported. Researchers progress by publishing research, and because the publication system is built on trust and peer review is not designed to detect fraud it is easy to publish fraudulent research. Funders, universities, and other research institutions similarly have incentives to fund and publish studies and disincentives to make a fuss about fraudulent research they may have funded or had undertaken in their institution-perhaps by one of their star researchers. It may be time to move from assuming that research has been honestly conducted and reported to assuming it to be untrustworthy until there is some evidence to the contrary.