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Issue #64 (February 2020)

From the Editor

Welcome to the soft reboot of the ERD, which is now the Nutrition Examination Research Digest (NERD)! (Note: no Vulcans were harmed in the making of this soft reboot)

In addition to changing our name, we’re also making some mild to moderate changes in content. But we didn’t do this willy-nilly; we put a lot of thought and effort into it. I’d like to use my soapbox this month to go over the changes we’re making, and why we’re making them.

Over the past year, we’ve surveyed and interviewed both long-time ERD readers as well as unsubscribers, and learned a lot of things. One big takeaway we got was that y’all appreciated our in-depth coverage, but many of you had some trouble keeping up with the reading, since our deep dives were, well, deep! We also learned that this was actually driving some people to unsubscribe, which is completely understandable — why pay money for something you’re not using?

This led us to our first, and biggest, change: we’ve completely revamped the format of our standard review articles. They’re now a bit shorter, and also each section of the review focuses on a specific question that the section answers. These changes will make our articles quicker to read in full and easier to digest and use.

Plus, there’s also the fact that some articles simply require more room to explore than others. This could be for a lot of reasons. Maybe the study is a really big deal that requires emphasis. Or it introduces some new or interesting methods that would be useful to explain in detail. Or there’s some cool physiology we want to explore. Or maybe there are a lot of flaws in a study and we need the space to go over exactly why we don’t think the study should be taken at face value. For these cases, we’re keeping our old tried-and-true format, which we’re explicitly labelling “Deep Dives”. This will give us the space to explore articles we think are worth diving more deeply into.

So, the meat of NERD will be review articles in two formats: quicker standard articles and Deep Dives.

In addition, we’ve had a couple of other article formats sprinkled in the ERD: Interviews and Minis. These formats aren’t going away; instead we’re expanding the types of non-review articles we include in NERD.

One new format we’ll be adding is “NERD Nulls”. This will be a very quick overview of several recent research articles that failed to find statistically significant results. We’ll quickly summarize what intervention didn’t seem to work, and also give a brief assessment of how strong we think the negative evidence actually is — after all, not all null results are created equally! A small pilot study not finding an effect doesn’t say as much about whether something doesn’t work compared to a large meta-analysis with low heterogeneity and high study quality. This can help you save time and money by seeing what the evidence says about what doesn’t work.

We’ll also be adding new formats over time. Two on the agenda are “NERD News” and “What’s the Harm?” The former will go over newsworthy items relevant to the world of nutrition and supplementation; for example, a future NERD News article will cover a recently approved drug for the treatment of peanut allergies in children. The point of the latter format will be to cover and emphasize safety issues, which are really important to NERD readers who care about their health!

These new article formats won’t appear in every issue — we’ll use them on an as-needed basis. Together, they’ll help broaden our coverage of things that we think are relevant to you.

At the end of the day, Examine.com is evidence-based, and we invite you to provide us with some. If you have positive or constructively critical feedback concerning these changes, please reach out!


Gregory Lopez, MA, PharmD
Editor-in-chief, Nutrition Examination Research Digest

See other articles in Issue #64 (February 2020) of Study Deep Dives.