|Models posing as scientists preferred orange test-tube
water two-to-one over blue in clinical trials.
We’ve heard all about the problems with clinical trials: Journals often prefer to print headline-grabbing positive results (i.e., Vioxx works wonders) over negative results (i.e., Vioxx doesn’t do anything at all, or, even worse, it hurts you). So doctors and patients are sometimes left wondering whether they’re missing some important information about a new drug. That’s where the new journal PLOS Clinical Trials comes in. Just launched two weeks ago, it aims to publish clinical trials based on their usefulness to the medical community, not on their novelty. Any well-conducted study has a good shot at reaching the public eye, and even casual readers like myself can understand the contributions and limitations of a study, thanks to an easy-to-read explanation at the top of each article. What’s more, PLOS’s open-access policy ensures that important findings reach doctors in far-flung and resource-poor places. Public health workers, such as malaria researchers, are already jumping at the chance to share their knowledge. Whether the drug companies follow suit remains to be seen. —Lauren Aaronson