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Rushton's recent article1 on the reporting of occupational and environmental research raises several useful points that all researchers would do well to remember when writing up epidemiological findings for publication. Without expressly intending to do so, however, the article also emphasises the hazards of establishing formal criteria or checklists for the evaluation of scientific work. Good epidemiological practices certainly exist, but one of the pitfalls inherent in attempts to codify them is that, by their nature, lists of the features of “good” research tend to impose a “one size fits all” standard, which—like clothing of the same description—fits nothing particularly well.
The prospect of developing formal guidelines for reporting analyses based on multivariable models illustrates the difficulties. Science involves many kinds of activities, but the significant advances come about through the creative application of human intellect, rather than by rote repetition of the familiar. Like other aspects of science, …