Developing a tool for detecting problematic RCTs in health systematic reviews: the INSPECT-SR project

Systematic reviews of health interventions synthesise evidence from all RCTs addressing a particular research question, and are considered very high-quality evidence. Unfortunately, it has become clear that some RCTs included in systematic reviews are not authentic and may have been entirely fabricated. We call trials subject to data falsification, fabrication, or other serious research integrity issues “problematic studies”, and recent examples can be found amongst studies included in systematic reviews of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19. However, there is no consensus around how to identify these problematic studies when undertaking a systematic review, and often no checks are performed at all.

In the first half of this MSU web clinic, Jack will present the NIHR-funded INSPECT-SR project, which aims to develop a tool for identifying and excluding problematic RCTs from systematic reviews. The project will combine empirical evidence and consensus science approaches to develop a tool, which will then be refined through testing. He will outline the project, deliver interim results, and provide information about how to participate in the development of the tool.

In the second half, Jack will describe some of the analytic methods which are employed to assess the authenticity of RCT datasets.


Presenter Bio

Jack Wilkinson is a Lecturer at the Centre for Biostatistics, University of Manchester. His research interests include clinical trials and systematic reviews of interventions, with a focus on reproductive medicine, and he is Statistical Editor for Cochrane Gynaecology and Fertility, BJOG, Fertility and Sterility, and Reproduction and Fertility. His interest in research misconduct began in 2019, when he was enlisted by a journal to investigate the integrity of several published clinical trials. He now regularly performs integrity investigations for journals and publishers of medical research. He is currently leading the NIHR-funded INSPECT-SR project, which aims to develop a tool for identifying and excluding problematic RCTs from systematic reviews.


Sign up

Thursday, 6 July 2023, 08:00 UTC [Check the time in your time zone] SIGN UP HERE

You will need a Cochrane Account to register for this webinar. If you don’t have a Cochrane Account you will be able to register for free on the following page. You will be able to use this account for all future activity. A brief guidance on how to sign up using your Cochrane Account is available here and if you have any problems, please contact support@cochrane.org