A “lack of time” is the most common reason researchers gave for not publishing their results in an academic journal after presenting them at a conference, according to a new systematic review in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology. The authors of the review searched for studies that investigated whether abstracts presented at biomedical conferences were later published, and the reasons researchers gave for not publishing. They found 24 studies that included 2,307 abstracts, of which 56% were later published. Seven of those studies included only clinical trials (322 in total), and 73% of those trials were later published. When the researchers who ran the clinical trials were asked why they didn’t later publish their results, they said it was because of “lack of time” (32%) or “lack of time and/or resources” (47%). Few researchers – and only one researcher in the studies that looked only at clinical trials – said they didn’t publish their results because they expected journal editors to reject their paper.
The authors of the review recommend that researchers have a dissemination plan before they begin and that funders provide enough resources to allow researchers the time to publish their results. Researchers should also post their results “in an open access format to ensure that results are available to all with the aim to increase transparency in biomedical research and reduce the impact of publication bias.”
Average number of times a reason was given by researchers for not publishing their clinical trial results (from 7 studies investigating 322 clinical trials).