Cello Scrotum, Guitar Nipple: Docs Fess Up to Invented Conditions

"In the old days people used to turn in single case reports more," explained Delamothe, adding that, today, the BMJ looks for larger studies with more evidence to publish. "People are very turned off by single case reports now," he said.

If something were to turn up as fabricated, Delamothe said the BMJ resorts to a retraction, which can seriously hurt a researcher's career.

"It's a real big thing to print a retraction," said Delamothe. "It's very rare. I think it's probably [done] about once every five years."

Besides, Delamothe said doctors have a chance to get notoriety by entering oddball research into their annual Christmas edition.

"We tend to be jokey at Christmas," said Delamothe, citing an example this year of research on the physics of head banging. "They're true (at Christmas), but it's a long way from the traditional fare of medical journals.

"We get enough genuine wacky stuff without making it up," he said.

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