Q: What is the difference between an opinionated publication and an evidence-based publication?
The difference in the two types of articles is rooted in the difference between expert opinion and evidence-based medicine. Historically, medicine was based on the consensus of experts and their opinions on best practices. However, evidence-based medicine uses pertinent evidence on which to base clinical decisions and even healthcare policies.
In an opinion paper or article, the author focuses on a topic and expresses personal and original thoughts or beliefs, which might stem from their experience and expertise. An opinion paper aims to stimulate debate or new research. It might speculate on the implications of some recent research or cover controversial topics, a long-standing problem, or a current issue. Most often, opinions are sought by a journal by writing to (inviting) authors. Note that this article type might be called slightly differently by different journals, e.g., opinion piece, opinion article, expert opinion, or perspective.
An evidence-based paper or article, meanwhile, describes and critically appraises available evidence. Different types of clinical evidence are rated according to the “quality” or strength of the evidence. In decreasing order of evidence strength, the evidence-based paper types are: systematic reviews and meta-analyses > randomized controlled trials > cohort studies > case control studies and case series > expert opinion. Case reports and expert opinion are among the lowest levels of evidence because they are influenced by author bias.
Nevertheless, both opinion articles and evidence-based publications are important types of contributions in the literature for determining best practices and advancing medical science.
For more insights, you may find it worthwhile to go through the following related resources:
- A guide to perspective, commentary, and opinion articles
- What level of evidence is needed for a perspective article?
- Do I include evidence from the experiment in the rationale?
- What is meant by relevance to clinical practice?
Hope that helps. And in case you’re planning one or the other type of publication, all the best for it!