HealthDay News — Spin in biomedical literature (also referred to as “science hype”) is prevalent, with trials having the highest and greatest variability in the prevalence of spin, according to a review published in PLOS Biology.

Kellia Chiu, from the University of Sydney, and colleagues examined the nature and prevalence of spin, referring to reporting practices that distort the interpretation of results and mislead readers so that results are viewed favorably, in the biomedical literature. The association of spin with industry sponsorship of research was assessed. Thirty-five reports were included.

The researchers found that the nature of spin varied with study design. Trials had the highest, and also greatest, variability in the prevalence of spin. Detracting from statistically nonsignificant results and inappropriately using causal language were some of the common practices used to spin results.

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Possibly due to the heterogeneity of the included papers, the results were inconclusive with respect to whether source of funding was associated with spin.

“Further research is needed to assess the impact of spin on readers’ decision-making,” the authors write. “Editors and peer reviewers should be familiar with the prevalence and manifestations of spin in their area of research in order to ensure accurate interpretation and dissemination of research.”

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Chiu K, Grundy Q, Bero L. ‘Spin’ in published biomedical literature: a methodological systematic review. PLoS Biol. 2017; 15(9):e2002173.