The Voice of Epidemiology


    Web EpiMonitor

► Home ► About ► News ► Job Bank Events ► Resources ► Contact
Gargantuan Issue Of The International Journal Of Epidemiology Marks The End Of Editorship By George Davey Smith and Shah Ebrahim

Last Publication Dated December 2016 Includes Debate On Approaches To Causality In Epidemiology

The last issue of the International Journal of Epidemiology co-edited by George Davey Smith and Shah Ebrahim appeared in print in late March 2017. It is a gargantuan issue even by the standards of the IJE which had grown enormously in size in recent years. The final issue contains more than 75 articles, letters, and other published items spread out over 500 pages. Many of the articles which appear in the hard copy were actually published in Advance Access online over a period of  15 months from January 2016 to March 2017.

Final Issue

The much awaited issue contains a special section on causality in epidemiology where many articles expressing different perspectives on causal inference have been pulled together. The paper which kicked-off the debate was one published in January 2016 by Vandenbroucke, Broadbent, and Pearce in which they criticized the potential outcomes approach to causal inference as too restrictive for epidemiology.

Approximately two dozen of the more than 75 published items have been made available free of charge or are open access. Several of these, including the latest ones on causality, were only published recently in late March.

Editors Comment

According to Ebrahim and Davey Smith, “…in this final issue of the journal under our editorship, there are major contributions on causal thinking in epidemiology which illuminate what modern epidemiology can and cannot do.” And they add, “A question that remains of importance is whether the focus on genetic and –omics epidemiology and new methods of causal inference are freezing out applications of epidemiology in health services, public health, and clinical medicine.”

Farewell Message

In a farewell message to Ebrahim and Davey Smith published as an advance article in February 2017, the Council of the International Epidemiological Association stated that the success of the IJE in achieving a high impact factor “…lies squarely on the shoulders of George Davey Smith and Shah Ebrahim.”

The Council described the journal as extraordinarily eclectic and influential” and “… a true adventure in communication for epidemiology”.

Section on Causality

The debate about causality in epidemiology is highlighted in a special section of this issue. As described in their lead editorial, Ebrahim, Ferrie, and Davey Smith note that “Much debate now centres on the overemphasis on identifying causes of disease as the sole purpose of ‘modern epidemiology’, and with an obsession with ever more complex statistical methodology.”

Judging by the comments of the participants in articles written after multiple opportunities for give and take exchanges, the different sides of the argument appear to be still divided. In one of the latest published papers on March 27, 2017 entitled “Causal inference—so much more than statistics”,  Neil Pearce and Debbie Lawlor conclude “…we recognize the value and power of these methods when used appropriately and cautiously, together with other approaches such as triangulation. The problem is how to use these new methods critically and appropriately, rather than being captured by them in a manner which redefines and restricts what epidemiology is.  ■


Reader Comments:
Have a thought or comment on this story ?  Fill out the information below and we'll post it on this page once it's been reviewed by our editors.

  Name:        Phone:   



      ©  2011 The Epidemiology Monitor

Privacy  Terms of Use  Sitemap

Digital Smart Tools, LLC