The launch of the clinicaltrials.gov registry in 2000

seems to have had a striking impact on reported trial results, according to a PLoS ONE study that many researchers have been talking about online in the past week.

Except me, unfortunately. If you’ve been a keen reader of the blog, you’ll know what to expect: by requiring studies to be open about their protocols, researchers are prevented from massaging the results by altering their analysis.

The study found that in a sample of 55 large trials testing heart-disease treatments, 57% of those published before 2000 reported positive effects from the treatments. But that figure plunged to just 8% in studies that were conducted after 2000. […]

The authors conclude that registration of trials seemed to be the dominant driver of the drastic change in study results. They found no evidence that the trend could be explained by shifting levels of industry sponsorship or by changes in trial methodologies.

You can see for yourself here, it’s a short read. As painful as these results sound, a little sunshine is necessary if we want to weed out false positives and improve the scientific enterprise.