The President Gets Published

Well, would you look at that. Barack Obama has become the first sitting US President to publish a paper in a scientific journal.

As soon as I read that, I had to take a look at the paper. It is about health care reform in the United States, which makes sense of course. It is also published in JAMA, which is a very respectable medical journal indeed. But I wondered, is he the first author? The corresponding author?

He is the only author on the paper, which usually means that he can be contacted about the content. Did the President of the United States just put his email address on a paper?

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Author Affiliations! That’s where you usually get information about the author. So, what happens when you click on Author Affiliations?

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HA! That has got to be my favorite part. What more do you need? President of the United States bitches! I’m surprised there is no middle finger emoticon next to it.

All joking aside, I have the feeling that he got a very easy revision. Unless the reviewers thought it was a joke. I might have, if a paper came across my desk for review with the President of the United States’ name on it.

As for the paper, it finds that the Affordable Care Act has made America’s Health Care System better, no surprises there. Not that I think that it hasn’t, it may well have, but there might be a slight conflict of interest on the author’s part, no? The methodology itself is not one that I have time to comb through, it is essentially an essay with a few stats thrown in there, and there is no methods section in the paper at all. Did he take any steps to prevent confirmation bias? I don’t have time, nor much expertise to re-calculate his stats, but if anyone else wants to give this paper a once over feel free to let us know what you find!

But that also leads to another question: Does this mean that Barack Obama is a decent statistician? He’s the only author on the paper, which means that he is at least claiming to have done the calculations himself. Or did someone else do them for him, and he didn’t put their name on the paper?



  1. dianne says

    If I were the reviewer I would have been very dubious of this being a single author paper. The people who did the actual work should be coauthors, not just listed in the acknowledgements section.

  2. Anton Mates says

    ” I thank Matthew Fiedler, PhD, and Jeanne Lambrew, PhD, who assisted with planning, writing, and data analysis. ”

    So they assisted with…everything? Yup, should be coauthors.

  3. anat says

    So I did a quick PubMed search. Looks Like B. Obama (sometimes publishing as BH. Obama) has 12 publications, starting from 2006. The first was co-authored by HR Clinton, the rest single-authored.

    • thoughtsofcrys says

      I thought something was up when all his other publications stated “no abstract available”. Looking into them further, they seem to be either editorials or interviews. This one seems to be the first one that went through the peer-review process

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