A new study has found that over the last 20 years there has been a steep decline in the number of scholarly papers published about basic science in medical journals.
The study was lead by Dr. Warren Lee from the Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science at St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto and published in the February issue of the FASEB Journal, one of the world’s most-cited biology journals.
Dr. Lee and his team searched articles on basic science published from 1994 to 2013 in the highest-impact journals for the fields of cardiology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, infectious diseases, nephrology, neurology, oncology and pulmonology and found that in six out of eight journals, the amount of basic science had fallen by 40 to 60 percent.
Basic science is research that examines cells and molecules to better understand the causes and mechanisms of disease. It differs from clinical research, which includes clinical trials of drugs and epidemiological studies that review information from charts and health databases.
“This rapid decline in basic science publications is likely to affect physicians’ understanding of and interest in the basic mechanisms of disease and treatments,” warned Dr. Lee. “If medical residents and clinicians are never exposed to basic science, they are going to think that it’s unimportant or irrelevant, and it has become a bit of a vicious cycle. If residents think that basic science research is irrelevant, they won’t consider pursuing it as part of their training or their career.”