Poor reporting is a significant cause of research waste.
Eighty percent of medical research doesn't contribute to knowledge because of inappropriate study design, delay in publication, non-publication, or poor reporting.
Reporting guidelines are tools designed to help. A reporting guideline reminds authors of the key information readers need to:-
- Understand why and how you did the research
- Repeat the study
- Reproduce your analysis
Awareness and use of reporting guidelines are both low, even though good journals recommend them. Some journals make it compulsory to use them. Reporting guidelines are published and updated at different times in different journals, which can also make it difficult for researchers to find and use them.
The EQUATOR Network aims to improve reporting through education and training activities. We also provide a freely available, comprehensive, searchable database of reporting guidelines (www.equator-network.org).
The UK EQUATOR Centre has developed a website called GoodReports (www.goodreports.org). It includes a set of questions to help authors identify the appropriate reporting guideline for their study. It also delivers a checklist of items from that reporting guideline, with links to explanations and examples of good reporting where available. Authors can use the checklist to show where in their manuscript they have reported each item. Many journals now require authors to submit a completed reporting checklist with their manuscript.
Could GoodReports really help?
Pilot-testing GoodReports supported our view that to make a significant difference to the completeness of manuscripts, researchers need help with reporting as early as possible in the writing process.
Improvements to GoodReports
We have made several improvements to GoodReports based on what we learnt during pilot-testing, and in response to feedback from interviews and focus groups with researchers. We have now made it possible to integrate items from reporting guidelines into an article template. This means the tool can be used when authors are in the process of writing their manuscript, not just when they are ready to submit a manuscript to a journal.
GRReaT: GoodReports Randomized Trial
We want to test if our improvements to GoodReports and delivering guidance at an earlier stage of the writing process make an important difference to the completeness of articles submitted to medical journals.
We will compare two groups to see if providing a tailored article template including items and guidance from a reporting guideline results in a more complete article than simply signposting authors to a reporting guideline publication. We have published the protocol for the trial on the Open Science Framework (https://osf.io/d8u76).
You can help us do that by joining The GoodReports randomized Trial: GRReaT.
You are eligible to take part if:-
- You are currently in the early or planning stage of writing up a healthcare-related research study for publication in a medical journal.
- Your study involves the use of descriptive and/or inferential statistics
- You are the first and corresponding author
- You can commit to submit a publication-ready manuscript to the GRReaT research team within 6-12 months of joining the trial
We are recruiting authors of papers reporting the following study designs:-
- cohort study
- case-control study
- cross sectional study
- systematic review of trials of healthcare interventions
- randomized trial
Read more about cohort, case-control and cross-sectional study designs here.
Click here to read the participant information and to give your consent to take part in the trial.