For years, editors and researchers have worried that many clinical trials never appear in the medical literature. The human studies most likely to go unreported are small trials, ones that reach negative conclusions, and ones that don’t achieve statistical significance. As a result, the research literature suffers from what editors call “publication bias.” How can the literature become more representative of the research that’s being done? The answer is simple, say some, and is the same as the solution they see for many other publishing woes: free, open access.
The Public Library of Science (PLOS), at http://www.plos.org, offers free access to scientific, including medical, research articles. One of its subsites features clinical trials (http://clinicaltrials.ploshubs.org/home.action). PLOS does not charge for subscriptions but asks authors to pay a fee if their papers are accepted.