Cefic-lri Programme | European Chemical Industry Council

Q3-UMA: Sound Science: Selective citation in science based decision-making

Principal Investigator

Prof. Dr. Maurice Zeegers
Maastricht University
Care and Public Health Research Institute
School CAPHRI
Maastricht
The Netherlands
m.zeegers@maastrichtuniversity.nl
Tel: +31 43 388 2012

Collaborators

Prof. Dr. Lex Bouter, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Amsterdam University Medical Centers, NL, lm.bouter@vu.nl
Dr. Gerard Swaen, Maastricht University, Nutrition and Toxicology Research Institute, NL, g.swaen@maastrichtuniversity.nl
Miriam Urlings, Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism (School NUTRIM), Maastricht University, NL, mje.urlings@maastrichtuniversity.nl
Bram Duyx
, Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism (School NUTRIM), Maastricht University, NL, b.duyx@maastrichtuniversity.nl

Description

The European Chemical Industry Council has provided funding to Maastricht University for a research project on Research Integrity by exploring one of the most suspected contributors to questionable research practices: selective citation.

It is generally accepted that scientific papers should give a balanced overview of the already existing literature on a topic of interest. Only citing articles that are supportive towards a certian hypothesis, or that are in agreement with the beliefs of the citing authors, is known as citation bias. This project focuses on citation bias, which is suspected to be one of the main drivers of skewed knowledge dissemination. The aim is to systematically collect reproducible data on selected topics and assess the extent of citation bias that occurs in the process of science based decision-making. In addition, the impact of other potential determinants of selective citation will also be investigated, such as study design, sample size and gender of the corresponding author.

The researchers from Maastricht University have developed a new method to study these research aims. This method has been applied to three topics that describe an association between an exposure and a health risk: 1) chlorinated swimming water and childhood asthma, 2) health effects of phthalates, and 3) the hygiene hypothesis. Within each of these topics the researchers will identify and classify the publications, their citations and construct the citation network. These citation networks will be statistically analysed by random-effects logistic regression models to identify the different types of selective citation. Furthermore, at the very start of this project, a meta-analysis on citation bias was conducted to assess its prevalence and magnitude throughout the scientific disciplines.

In the second part of this project (Q3.2), two more topics will be investigated: 4) the health effects of BPA, and 5) the relationship between diesel exhaust exposure and lung cancer risk. After all topics have been analysed, the main conclusions will be aggregated so that we can recognise patterns and identify the main sources of selective citation such as study outcome, study quality, level of authority, author affiliation and journal impact.

Related Publications

Publications:

Duyx B, Urlings MJE, Swaen GMH, Bouter LM, Zeegers MP. Selective citation in the literature on swimming in chlorinated water and childhood asthma: a network analysis. Res Integr Peer Rev. 2017 Oct 2;2:17.

Duyx B, Urlings MJE, Swaen GMH, Bouter LM, Zeegers MP. Scientific citations favor positive results: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Clin Epidemiol. 2017 Aug;88:92-101.

Presentations: 

Duyx B, Urlings MJE, Swaen GMH, Bouter LM, Zeegers MP. Scientific citations favor positive results: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Reward Equator Conference, September 2015, Edinburg, Scotland.

Duyx B, Urlings MJE, Swaen GMH, Bouter LM, Zeegers MP. Scientific citations favor positive results: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Netherlands Research Integrity Network Conference, May 2016, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Duyx B, Urlings MJE, Swaen GMH, Bouter LM, Zeegers MP. Scientific citations favor positive results: a systematic review and meta-analysis. WEON Epidemiology Conference, June 2016, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Duyx B, Urlings MJE, Swaen GMH, Bouter LM, Zeegers MP. Scientific citations favor positive results: a systematic review and meta-analysis. UM GROW Masterclass on Research Excellence, Validity and Integrity, January 2017, Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Duyx B, Urlings MJE, Swaen GMH, Bouter LM, Zeegers MP. Selective citation in the literature on swimming in chlorinated water and childhood asthma: a network analysis. WEON Epidemiology Conference, June 2017, Antwerp, Belgium.

Duyx B, Urlings MJE, Swaen GMH, Bouter LM, Zeegers MP. Scientific citations favor positive results: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Plastics Europe, December 2017, Brussels, Belgium.

Urlings MJE, Duyx B, Swaen GMH, Bouter LM, Zeegers MP. Citation bias in human literature on bisphenol A. Plastics Europe, December 2017, Brussels, Belgium.

Duyx B, Urlings MJE, Swaen GMH, Bouter LM, Zeegers MP. Selective citation in the literature on swimming in chlorinated water and childhood asthma: a network analysis. Netherlands Research Integrity Network conference, April 2018, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Posters:

Maurice Zeegers, Gerard Swaen. Sound science: selective citation in science based decision-making. Cefic-LRI 16th Annual Workshop, November 2014, Brussels, Belgium.

Duyx B, Urlings MJE, Swaen GMH, Bouter LM, Zeegers MP. Selective citation in the literature on swimming and childhood asthma. World Conferences on Research Integrity, May 2017, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Duyx B, Urlings MJE, Swaen GMH, Bouter LM, Zeegers MP. Be positive if you want to be cited. A systematic review and meta-analysis of citation bias. World Congress on Research Integrity, May 2017, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Duyx B, Urlings MJE, Swaen GMH, Bouter LM, Zeegers MP. Be positive if you want to be cited. A systematic review and meta-analysis of citation bias. FederaDag, June 2017, The Hague, The Netherlands.

Urlings MJE, Duyx B, Swaen GMH, Bouter LM, Zeegers MP. Citation bias in human literature on bisphenol A. UM CAPHRI Research Day, November 2017, Maastricht, The Netherlands.

In the press:

Het is erger dan wetenschapsfraude, het is slordige wetenschap. Interview with Lex Bouter on questionable research practices and selective citation (in Dutch). nrc.nl.

Awards:

Award for innovative methodology, World Congress on Research Integrity, May 2017, Amsterdam, NL.
Best poster presentation award, FederaDag, June 2017, The Hague, NL.

Timeline: August 2014 > January 2017

LRI funding: € 397 028

Cefic-Lri Programme Responsible Care

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