Medical research: is it done correctly?

A lot of discussions happen about medical research in India. About how we do not have a conducive environment / encouragement and more. I am not commenting on any of the earlier discussions. I would like to stress on one activity in medical research that is most often not done right. It concerns me on a continuous basis. That activity is

“Literature searching”

While searching the literature, most “Google”. Often when I ask people how they do a literature search in PubMed (or other databases) they say “we type in keywords and search”. They say it in a tone that conveys that it is a “special method of searching”. And what they are really doing is just googling here too.

And then whether they get either too little or too many results,
they “make do” with some results that appear relevant!

It is bad enough doing this for general academics or research. But when this is the method used for working on a meta-analysis or a systematic review, it is alarming. We at QMed have been approached by people who ask us to comment on their search strategies. Almost often they are just unacceptable. With such unstructured methods, the very foundation of research is wobbly. Unstable. The research can crumble if evaluated critically. The most recent instance we saw was in a PhD thesis. Where important MeSH terms were left out and irrelevant ones were used in the search strategy. How could this research be valid?

If Indian medical research output has to improve,
the literature searching process has to be corrected

And that is why QMed exists. To make this change! It is our mission. And we wish to see that this is an important part of the curriculum

Note: There are certainly some individuals in India who can run reasonable to good searches. They are just a tiny handful. There is a huge denominator to be tackled.

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