Contemplations and Ruminations of Methodological Error

Rahul Tandon, Lior Aljadeff, Richard A. Finn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: Journal articles in our field of oral and maxillofacial surgery are rife with case studies, cohort reviews, meta-analysis, basic science studies, surgical techniques, and anatomic studies. The data found in these studies often rely on multiple measurements by which the authors draw their conclusions. Accurate measurements play a critical role in the design of the study, which in turn affects the conclusion that the author is attempting to convey. Investigators must determine and develop the processes to determine the methodological errors associated with each project to help with determining the accuracy of these measurements. The aim of this study is to highlight some of the methodological errors contained in the material and methods in oral and maxillofacial surgery studies over the calendar years of 2018 and 2019 and how best to evaluate them. Materials and Methods: The inclusion criteria involved articles that used measurements where discrepancies could exist such as clinical measurements, histological measurements, and radiological measurements. The number of specimens or subjects measured in each study was tabulated. Results: Over the 2-year period considered, 744 articles were published, and 116 (15.6%) of them met the inclusion criteria. Of these articles, 37 (32%) reported a methodological error, while 79 (68%) did not. In addition, 31 (84%) of the articles with a methodological error were radiographic, while only 6 (16%) were not radiographic. Among the studies that reported methodological error, there were approximately 7 different types used with no rationale given for the choice. Conclusions: We believe that it is important to ensure sound methods and materials, including a stated methodological error. An attempt at standardization will help to serve to enhance and strengthen the different research studies seen in our field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-56
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oral Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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