Corazon de Leon wrote:Hope it's gone alright Mini E - if you've not posted by 8pm I'll send help.
Jenuall wrote:Yeah I went in with a very negative viewpoint and was pleasantly surprised on the day of my viva, walked out having had a really interesting chat with some great people about my work and only needing to do minor corrections!
Hope it's going / has gone well Mini E!
I was the same - it took me forever to get submission sorted and then I more or less forgot everything I'd learned before the viva. I was worried the examiners would just pick apart everything I'd written. And from left-field Celtic had been thrashed 4-0 by Hearts the previous day(ending a 69 match unbeaten domestic run) so I was not in the best mood as well.
What was your PhD subject Jenuall? It's always cool to find other doctors kicking about the forum.
Yeah I think we are doing okay for doctors in this place!
My PhD was in Bioinformatics, specifically looking at ways that we could model domain knowledge regarding traditional biologists (the way they think and operate, the terminology they use, the sorts of tools and data that work with etc.) in order to support their use of some of the more complex software that was available to allow them to do more.
Basically there was a range of software that had been developed which was thought to have great potential in helping with their research but it was complex and not written with them in mind. Our goal was to find a way to bridge the gap between the software and the scientists - allowing them to express their goals and methods in ways they were more familiar with and translating this into an operation that the software could actually undertake. We kind of got somewhere with it but I don't think it set the world on fire!
That's cool! Well above my pay grade and outside my specialty, but it sounds pretty interesting. Did anyone ever pick up the research once you'd finished what you were doing with it?
Yeah it was an interesting area to be working in, unfortunately it seems that what we were doing turned out to be more of a cul-de-sac than a whole new avenue of scientific exploration and so nobody has really built on it since which is a shame. I do check in with the Cardiff uni online system every now and then to see if anyone has been downloading or citing my thesis - usually it has been quiet!
I had plenty of ideas for where to go next myself but the work was too niche to have ever really found much funding so I bailed on academia unfortunately!
Oh and congrats Mini E! Coming through my viva and being told I had passed with amendments was absolutely one of the happiest feelings I have experienced, enjoy it!
How deeply an anaesthetist should sedate an elderly person when they have surgery is a controversial issue, because some studies link stronger doses of anaesthetic with earlier deaths. So it should reassure clinicians to see a study1 in the British Journal of Anaesthesia that investigates and rules out such a link — the published paper’s discussion section says so explicitly: “These results are reassuring.”
Or are they? Another paper2 in the journal analyses the same results and reaches a different conclusion about death rates. It says the trial didn’t include enough patients to reach that conclusion — or any conclusion — on mortality.
The opposing takes on the mortality link — a secondary conclusion of the study — are the result of an unusual peer-review experiment at the journal to tackle reproducibility of results in the field. In recent years, uncertainties over the reliability of studies have plagued anaesthetics research, fuelled by high-profile cases of fraud. That’s a problem, because such studies influence clinical practice and can have serious and immediate implications for patients.
So, for some papers, the British Journal of Anaesthesia is now asking an independent expert to write their own discussion of the study2. Unlike conventional peer reviewers, they look only at the methods and results sections and are blinded to the paper’s conclusions3. The two discussions sections are published together, with similarities and differences highlighted.
It’s an approach that some reproducibility experts welcome and say other fields should copy. Efforts to improve reproducibility have so far focused on methods and results, and need to extend to inferences and conclusions, says John Ioannidis, one of the authors of the independent discussion and a long-standing advocate for better reproducibility in science, based at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. “Out of very similar results with very similar methods people can make inferences or create narratives or tell stories that are very different,” he says. Independent discussion authors are free of “any allegiance bias, conflicts or any reason to favour one result or one interpretation”.
Spin and bias The move is intended to address the “over-interpretation, spin and subjective bias” that often plague the discussion sections of academic papers, says Hugh Hemmings, editor of the British Journal of Anaesthesia and a neuropharmacologist at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.
“The power of this approach will be when there is disagreement and it’s not clear who is right.” The treatment is reserved for studies in contentious or high-profile and policy-relevant areas, says Hemmings, because those studies are influential in the literature and can see their conclusions repeated and quoted.
At present, critiques of papers in the journal can appear weeks or months after publication, as guest editorials for example. By publishing the independent discussion at the same time as the peer-reviewed original, the journal hopes to accelerate the self-correcting nature of the literature. “If independent discussion authors find a fatal flaw, then we’ll have a bit of a problem. But it won’t be the first time,” says Hemmings.
The original paper’s lead author praises the approach. “I think it’s brilliant,” says Frederick Sieber, a researcher in anaesthesiology and critical-care medicine at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore. “We’re all biased and this gives a second pair of eyes.”
In agreement Having seen the independent discussion, Sieber agrees that the study was not big enough to robustly measure the link to mortality. “Everything they said is valid.” The original paper’s main conclusions still stand, he says, because its main goal was to report the impact of the depth of sedation on delirium, not death. The independent discussion agrees that the delirium data and conclusions are valid, because the number of patients required to test the link is smaller.
Not everyone sees value in the additional step. In an editorial published in the journal4, Robert Sneyd, dean of the Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, UK, warns that independent discussion sections will inevitably draw on the same people who are already asked to review papers. It risks “flogging the same pool of reviewers harder or (implausibly) recruiting fresh blood,” he writes. A better solution is to enforce existing rules, such as guidelines to authors, he says — for example to make clear a study’s possible weaknesses and to avoid speculation.
Hemmings says that his journal has at least one more independent discussion lined up, and that he will continue with the idea as long as people find it useful. “It may generate so much controversy that I can’t continue to do it.”
TLDR: New reviewing process being tried out. Independent reviewer only receives methods/results and write his/her own discussion. Independent discussion is published in same journal edition as original paper with similarities/differences highlighted. In this case, two discussion writers decided made completely opposite conclusions as to what was an acceptable mortality rate.