Statistical reviewing policies in dermatology journals: results of a questionnaire survey of editors

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2004 Aug;51(2):234-40. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2004.02.015.


Background: Problems with statistical methods and reporting have been noted in articles published in dermatology journals. Conclusions presented in published reports may be misleading if based on inappropriate or misinterpreted statistical analysis.

Objective: We sought to assess dermatology journal editors' policies and perceptions regarding statistical review of submitted manuscripts.

Design: We mailed and e-mailed a questionnaire survey.

Participants: A total of 43 dermatology journal editors, representing 35 dermatology journals from the United States and abroad, participated in this study.

Results: In all, 32 editors (74.4%), representing 30 journals (85.7%), returned questionnaires. A total of 24 editors (75%) reported having requested statistical reviews on less than 5% of published manuscripts containing original quantitative analysis (ie, excluding reviews and case reports), whereas 3 editors (9.4%) reported having requested statistical reviews on more than 75% of such manuscripts. Most editors reported requesting statistical reviews on a case-by-case basis either after initial favorable review by subject-matter (nonstatistical) reviewers (12 editors; 37.5%) or at the same time that subject-matter review was requested (6 editors; 18.8%). A total of 4 editors (12.5%) reported requesting statistical review for all manuscripts at the same time they are sent for subject-matter review. Another 10 editors (31.3%) said their journals had no general policy on statistical reviewing, and statistical review is almost never needed. For 15 editors (46.9%), ideal statistical reviewing policy was identical to their current policy, whereas 13 (40.6%) favored a more rigorous and 3 (9.4%) a less rigorous policy.

Conclusions: Dermatology journals infrequently perform statistical reviews of submitted manuscripts. Dermatology journal editors' statistical review policies range from no general policy to (most frequently) requesting reviews on a case-by-case basis to reviewing all submitted manuscripts. Many editors favor more rigorous statistical reviewing policies for their journals. Increased use of statistical reviewing may increase the reliability of conclusions published in dermatology journals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Dermatology / standards
  • Dermatology / statistics & numerical data*
  • Journalism, Medical / standards*
  • Policy Making
  • Population Surveillance
  • Research Design / standards
  • Research Design / statistics & numerical data
  • Statistics as Topic / standards
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States