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The qualitative problem of major quotation errors, as illustrated by 10 different examples in the headache literature

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There are two types of errors when references are used in the scientific literature: citation errors and quotation errors, and these errors have in reviews mainly been evaluated quantitatively. Quotation errors are the major problem, and 1 review reported 6% major quotation errors. The objective of this listing of quotation errors is to illustrate by qualitative analysis of different types of 10 major quotation errors how and possibly why authors misquote references. The author selected for review the first 10 different consecutive major quotation errors encountered from his reading of the headache literature. The characteristics of the 10 quotation errors ranged considerably. Thus, in a review of migraine therapy in a very prestigious medical journal, the superiority of a new treatment (sumatriptan) vs an old treatment (aspirin plus metoclopramide) was claimed despite no significant difference for the primary efficacy measure in the trial. One author, in a scientific debate, referred to the lack of dilation of the middle meningeal artery in spontaneous migraine despite the fact that only 1 migraine attack was studied. The possibility for creative major quotation errors in the medical literature is most likely infinite. Qualitative evaluations, as the present, of major quotation errors will hopefully result in more general awareness of quotation problems in the medical literature. Even if the final responsibility for correct use of quotations is with the authors, the referees, the experts with the knowledge needed to spot quotation errors, should be more involved in ensuring correct and fair use of references. Finally, this paper suggests that major misleading quotations, if pointed out by readers of the journal, should, as a rule, be corrected by way of an erratum statement.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHeadache Online
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)419-26
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015

ID: 45515223