Scientific Errors? There’s an App for That!

[From the article “Will scientific error checkers become as ubiquitous as spell-checkers?” posted at Retraction Watch]
Jonathan Wren and Constantin Georgescu of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation used an algorithmic approach to mine abstracts on MEDLINE for statistical ratios (e.g., hazard or odds ratios), as well as their associated confidence intervals and p-values. They analyzed whether these calculations were compatible with each other. (Wren’s PhD advisor, Skip Garner, is also known for creating such algorithms, to spot duplications.)”
“After analyzing almost half a million such figures, the authors found  that up to 7.5% were discrepant and likely represented calculation errors. When they examined p-values, they found that 1.44% of the total would have altered the study’s conclusion (i.e., changed significance) if they had been performed correctly.”
“We asked Wren — who says he thinks automatic scientific error-checkers will one day be as common as automatic spell-checkers are now — to answer a few questions about his paper’s approach.”
To read the interview, click here.

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