UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Rules of scientific inquiry and clinical trials : improvement is needed Kazanjian, Arminée, 1947-; Hadorn, David C., 1952-; Green, C. J. (Carolyn Joanne), 1956-


Valid scientific research on the effectiveness of interventions provides the foundation for improving the quality of health care. The social nature of this scientific activity requires a commitment on the part of scientists to follow established rules of inquiry in order to foster objectivity in observation and conclusion. The existence and general acceptance of these rules is in large part responsible for the privileged position awarded to science by contemporary Western societies. When scientists do not follow prescribed rules, the validity of their observations, studies, and conclusions is compromised. Such rule infractions are not always acknowledged by the relevant scientific community, in which case society at large remains unaware of the problem. We illustrate this problem by reference to the use (or non-use) of established rules designed to minimize observer bias in clinical trials and ensure unbiased reporting-areas which require subjective judgment and which are therefore modifiable. To the extent that investigators have strayed from these rules, the affected trials should be considered less than fully scientific and society should hesitate to accept their results. The identification of breaches of scientific rules of inquiry through rigorous critical appraisal protects the public from recommendations emanating from flawed science.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada