In this month’s H&E, we present preliminary results from some research being conducted at Lancaster University into the scientific quality of literature reviews in toxicology and chemical risk assessments.

The results, at least from analysis of the test set, are concerning, as it appears that almost none of the reviews that were evaluated (published around 2008) would meet a minimum standard one ought to expect of evidence reviews. This leaves a serious question as to the credibility of the findings of any of these papers.

Since only systematic reviews were evaluated in the test set, which are supposed to be representative of best practice in evidence review methods, then it leaves one wondering just how well regulatory weight-of-evidence assessments would perform against an ideal standard.

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