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Selection Bias

CORU's work shows effects of selective citation on surgical practice

16 June 2011

Pulmonary metastasectomy for colorectal cancer is a commonly performed and well-established practice of over 50 years standing. The absence of strong evidence, in the form of controlled studies, to support this practice led three of CORU's researchers to investigate the evidence base that has been used in establishing its status as a standard of care. Using citation network analysis on a total of 344 publications, they found frequent use of historical or landmark papers while, on the other hand, the few papers expressing opposing viewpoints were rarely cited (the four papers outside the main citation network in the figure below). They concluded that this citation pattern tends to escalate belief in clinical practice even when it lacks a high-quality evidence base and helps create an impression of more authority than is warranted.

Pulmonary Metastasectomy Citation Network
F Fiorentino, C Vasilakis and T Treasure
Clinical reports of pulmonary metastasectomy for colorectal cancer: a citation network analysis
British Journal of Cancer (2011) 104, 1085–1097. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6606060

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