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Clinicians' exposure to basic science articles has significantly declined

New research in The FASEB Journal suggests that the declining proportion of articles dealing with basic science research significantly decreases the exposure that doctors have to science over time

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

Breaking up may not be that hard to do after all. A new report appearing in The FASEB Journal suggests that the once close relationship between basic science and clinical medicine appears to be on the rocks, as the number of basic science research articles appearing in medical specialty journals has fallen dramatically over the past 20 years.

"Since advances in science represent the future of medicine, the top medical journals need to ensure that doctors are exposed to the latest basic scientific research," said Warren L. Lee, M.D., Ph.D., a researcher involved in the study from the Interdepartmental Division of Critical Care and the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto and Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, Canada.

To reach their conclusions, Lee and colleagues devised an automated search of all the articles published in the top medical journals of eight different specialties over the last 20 years to identify which articles pertained to basic scientific research. The number of articles found was compared to the total number of all types of articles appearing in those same journals. They found that the proportion of articles dealing with basic science research - that is, research dealing with the mechanisms of disease - has fallen dramatically over the last 20 years, resulting in a significant decrease in the exposure that doctors have to basic science research over time.

"This is an interesting report, but it should not be interpreted to mean that clinicians are not well educated or qualified," said Thoru Pederson, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "Rather, at a time when translational science is at the fore of public conversation, this report should be a starting point for a more meaningful discussion about the critical relationship between medical care and biomedical research."

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The findings were made available online on October 14, 2015, with the final, fully peer-reviewed paper published in the February 2016 edition.

Receive monthly highlights from The FASEB Journal by e-mail. Sign up at http://www.faseb.org/fjupdate.aspx. The FASEB Journal is published by the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). It is the world's most cited biology journal according to the Institute for Scientific Information and has been recognized by the Special Libraries Association as one of the top 100 most influential biomedical journals of the past century.

FASEB is composed of 30 societies with more than 125,000 members, making it the largest coalition of biomedical research associations in the United States. Its mission is to advance health and welfare by promoting progress and education in biological and biomedical sciences through service to our member societies and collaborative advocacy.

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