16

My field is cardiovascular epidemiology, and my current research question relates to some risk factor which is supposed to strongly elevate cardiovascular risk in a defined subgroup. However, my data do not indicate any such association, and power analysis shows that I have about 0.85 power to detect an effect of the size previously published. I see my findings as evidence for the null hypothesis.

Most of the available work on this risk factor in this subgroup comes from papers that all share one author. He is the leader regarding this question. He also holds a patent for assessment of this risk factor and possesses shares of a company that develops and plans to sell diagnostic tests to assess this risk factor.

I would like to make a statement in my paper that politely mentions these facts. This other author has published virtually everything there is that reports this positive association, and would profit enormously if it were true. However, I'm only a PhD student and they are top tier.

So how would I best go about this in my paper?

13

First off the fact that one group is dominating will be implicitly understood if you provide a paragraph or two summarizing their work and cite their publications. In such a paragraph you could add words like "ground-breaking" or phrases that describe the dominance of the group on the field.

You could for example start the paragraph by saying:

"The work concerning risk assessment of [...] has largely been carried out by [the research group] (example citations)."

(I hope you see the main idea of my attempt) Then you follow up on what they have done and cite their work.

It is just important to keep the tone as neutral as possible and let the citeable work speak for itself. Spending one or more paragraphs describing the work should be enough to make everyone understand the message.

  • 11
    One thought is that, since most of the work on this topic is from this group, they are likely to be reviewers for the paper, which may be an issue if the paper directly challenges their findings. You might consult with your advisor on how best to approach the politics of the situation. – debray Jul 31 '13 at 14:16
  • 3
    "We have found in our results that there is no relationship between Thing and Risk Factor, which is in contrast to previous work [2, 3, 4]. Possible reasons for these differences are..." – Irwin Jul 31 '13 at 17:57
  • 3
    @debray: yes, it goes without saying that we plan on excluding him as reviewer, given that the journal offers this - many do – miura Jul 31 '13 at 18:09
7
  1. Most of the available work on this risk factor in this subgroup comes from papers that all share one author. He is the leader regarding this question

    This you can freely express in your paper: it is a statement of fact, and if you provide evidence to back it up (papers, reviews, book chapters, etc.), there is no reason for it to be interpreted as a hostile statement. It is actually quite interesting.

  2. He also holds a patent for assessment of this risk factor. […] This guy has published virtually everything there is that reports this positive association

    Again, it's a statement of fact, not a problem. You can cite a patent if you want, and stating that in a neutral light is easy.

  3. and possesses shares of a company that develops and plans to sell diagnostic tests to assess this risk factor. […] and he would profit enormously if it were true.

    This, on the other hand, I would be very wary of writing that in a review. First, because it is not a scientific statement, so its place in a scientific paper is not clearly defined. Secondly, because it could (and probably will) be interpreted as having a strongly negative implication, possibly to the extent of suggesting very serious ethical issues.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.