Be careful when presenting your results

Be careful when presenting your results

Recently, the journal nature had an editorial entitled: “Mind the spin. Scientists – and their institutions – should resist the ever-temptation to hype their results”.

Nature referred to the recently concluded HIV vaccine trial in Thailand. Before publishing the results, the researchers said in a preliminary announcement in September, the trial that a vaccine combination reduced the risk of HIV infection by nearly one-third. Some even said “It’s the largest step forward that’s ever occurred in the HIV-vaccine field.”

Now the results have been published in New England Journal of Medicine. The first media announcement and the results do not match. Unfortunately, the data do not back up the early optimism.

For researchers and research students it is important to be careful when presenting the results. Please do not be tempted to hype the results. And hype means: “Promote or publicize (a product or idea) intensively, often exaggerating its importance or benefits”.

The comments in Nature provide a good learning about presenting results: Please read Nature 2009, 461: 1187: Jury still out on HIV vaccine results.

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