Today's published research must be scrutinized for validity, accuracy

May 1, 2012

In my early years in dermatology, there were many distinguished and acknowledged experts whose published findings became part of the core of the discipline. When they presented their findings at medical meetings or in print, one assumed that the data was valid and accurate, and it was often translated into specific management options for our patients.

Key Points

If future findings failed to support, or if they actually refuted, these findings, it was understood that science is a dynamic process in which improvements in research methods, technology and evaluation of data inevitably lead to advances, often at the expense of what was previously considered to the "conventional wisdom." In fact, one of my medical school professors claimed that 50 percent of what we would learn in school would subsequently be proven false. He was probably fairly accurate in his prediction.

With few exceptions, we seldom questioned the intellectual integrity of the researching dermatologists, many of whom were supported by government grants or institutional funding. Although there may have been some industry money involved in research efforts, one did not get the impression that the work was being overly influenced by those who supported it financially. Rarely was one left with the impression that there was intentional bias in the published reports.