Challenge: can you find ANYTHING of value in this research paper?

I just read this article, with 16 authors (!!!), about the use of CGMs in studies:

Role of Continuous Glucose Monitoring in Clinical Trials: Recommendations on Reporting

I read paragraph after paragraph, hoping to glean some valuable nugget of information. I could not find one single aspect of value, one tiny fact, one particle of worth. The key sentence in this article came, unfortunately, at its VERY end: “This article contains no original data, and therefore has no data guarantor.”

I felt like Abraham looking for righteous people in Sodom and Gomorrah – “OK, if I can’t find ten, what about five, what about four – what about just one?” But I could not find any. So I propose to strike this paper with lightning, earthquakes, major catastrophies and possibly a Trump tweet – unless you find anything of value in it.

Can you?

Come to think of it, this could be a signature thread for the forum – find the nugget in the research paper!

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That article is a pile of kaka.

It appears to be a “filler” paper, i.e. a paper meant to pad the number of publications. It doesn’t say anything other than offer topics to be discussed/trained on when looking to add CGM data to a study.


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OK - official challenge:

I am challenging all to find a worse diabetes research paper. May the worst one win!

When the paper has “The following topics should be addressed in the Results section:” followed by some results, you know it is bad…

Don’t know how that made it past peer review!

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I think people are simply misunderstanding the purpose of this. It’s not intended to be an empirical research paper with any original data or something that would be of interest likely to many diabetics themselves. It’s simply a brief summary of what CGM is and recommendations for how it can be utilized in studies, agreed upon by large number of researchers (hence the long author list across many institutions). Where it says “the following topics should be addressed in the Results section” it’s just a list of items for researchers using to CGM to consider when writing their results. The formatting of the paper is awful, but that’s on the publisher, not the authors/reviewers. As a researcher myself, this type of article seems fine and useful for proposing a set of standards for CGM research.


Exactly—that’s actually pretty important (and less intuitive than you’d think) if you care about having good quality CGM studies. CGM data requires different data modeling approaches than most diabetes researchers are used to. This kind of paper can help prevent everyone from just doing their own thing with a new(ish) technology, and peer reviewers may not know what to look for when evaluating papers reporting CGM data or grants proposing using it.

That is clear. But:

  • the body of the article recites basic truisms about CGMs

  • it should build up a reasoning towards the recommendation, section, using examples and thoughtful analysis to deduce conclusions for the recommendations

  • the recommendation section, which is not really a build-up on top of the rest of the article, but a set of assertions mostly built on faith, is largely without valuable substance. I quote the first two recommendations for the results section, for instance:

• The CGM system used needs to be described in detail, including device and manufacturer, and version number
• Information on the setting and patient population: inpatient or outpatient setting, description of care team and program, characterization of participants, and any specific indications for CGM; and whether CGM was used to modulate continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion (“sensor-augmented pump”), or as a component of a closed-loop system

I’m just saying, sometimes these things are published as a reaction to many other authors sending out a lot of manuscripts without this type of info in them, and people getting tired of peer-reviewing stuff missing key info. It may seem super obvious, and maybe it should be, but sometimes it’s not. I mean, it’s not a particularly important or special paper for sure, but it’s also in a fairly low impact factor journal (and non-empirical articles like this generally aren’t counted toward tenure etc), so this is unlikely to be particularly impressive publication fodder for anyone either.

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Oh, and it also looks like it may have been essentially invited editorial commentary for a special issue on CGMs, which also gives it even more context, since probably wouldn’t have existed as a stand-alone article otherwise. I’d bet the authors were asked to write it for the issue.

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Fair enough. I can see this would not have been something the authors would want to spend too much time on.

Ok, but why have that many authors then?

Because it’s to show consensus of opinion. You’ll note they almost all are from different institutions—it’s more of a opinion statement that probably one person wrote mostly and invited a group of researchers (probably all fairly established in the field would be my guess) to all sign on in agreement. It’s a thing that’s fairly commonly done, especially for special issue commentaries etc, to demonstrate consensus in the field around an issue/set of points.