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Fake facts and alternative truths in medical research

Overview of attention for article published in BMC Medical Ethics, January 2018
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About this Attention Score

  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • Among the highest-scoring outputs from this source (#29 of 684)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (95th percentile)

Mentioned by

news
1 news outlet
blogs
2 blogs
twitter
48 tweeters

Citations

dimensions_citation
5 Dimensions

Readers on

mendeley
41 Mendeley
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Title
Fake facts and alternative truths in medical research
Published in
BMC Medical Ethics, January 2018
DOI 10.1186/s12910-018-0243-z
Pubmed ID
Authors

Bjørn Hofmann

Abstract

Fake news and alternative facts have become commonplace in these so-called "post-factual times." What about medical research - are scientific facts fake as well? Many recent disclosures have fueled the claim that scientific facts are suspect and that science is in crisis. Scientists appear to engage in facting interests instead of revealing interesting facts. This can be observed in terms of what has been called polarised research, where some researchers continuously publish positive results while others publish negative results on the same issue - even when based on the same data. In order to identify and address this challenge, the objective of this study is to investigate how polarised research produce "polarised facts." Mammography screening for breast cancer is applied as an example. The main benefit with mammography screening is the reduced breast cancer mortality, while the main harm is overdiagnosis and subsequent overtreatment. Accordingly, the Overdiagnosis to Mortality Reduction Ratio (OMRR) is an estimate of the risk-benefit-ratio for mammography screening. As there are intense interests involved as well as strong opinions in debates on mammography screening, one could expect polarisation in published results on OMRR. A literature search identifies 8 studies publishing results for OMRR and reveals that OMRR varies 25-fold, from 0.4 to 10. Two experts in polarised research were asked to rank the attitudes of the corresponding authors to mammography screening of the identified publications. The results show a strong correlation between the OMRR and the authors' attitudes to screening (R = 0.9). Mammography screening for breast cancer appears as an exemplary field of strongly polarised research. This is but one example of how scientists' strong professional interests can polarise research. Instead of revealing interesting facts researchers may come to fact interests. In order to avoid this and sustain trust in science, researchers should disclose professional and not only financial interests when submitting and publishing research.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 48 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 41 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 41 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Ph. D. Student 7 17%
Student > Master 6 15%
Student > Doctoral Student 5 12%
Researcher 5 12%
Student > Bachelor 4 10%
Other 9 22%
Unknown 5 12%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 10 24%
Social Sciences 5 12%
Philosophy 3 7%
Engineering 3 7%
Nursing and Health Professions 3 7%
Other 12 29%
Unknown 5 12%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 49. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 30 June 2020.
All research outputs
#447,374
of 15,556,888 outputs
Outputs from BMC Medical Ethics
#29
of 684 outputs
Outputs of similar age
#16,643
of 366,377 outputs
Outputs of similar age from BMC Medical Ethics
#1
of 1 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 15,556,888 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 97th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 684 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 14.7. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 95% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 366,377 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 95% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 1 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has scored higher than all of them