"… more research is needed …" – what does this conclusion really mean?
In recent years, I have found myself getting irritated with researchers finishing their evaluation of a so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) with the sentence 'MORE RESEARCH IS NEEDED' (or similar). It is irritating because it fails to draw a line under assessments of even the most hopelessly implausible treatment. And, because it leaves things open, it seems to imply that, until further research is available, things can go on as before. When I realised that plenty of my own papers ended with this statement, I was first taken aback and then even more irritated. How could I have been guilty of repeatedly publishing such nonsense? Here are just 5 examples of my blundering: … further trials of high methodological quality with sufficient sample size and follow-up are needed ... Future rigorous randomised clinical trials with larger sample sizes will be necessary … Future investigations in this area should overcome the multiple methodological weaknesses of the previous research. More and