Improvements Needed for Research Reporting Guidelines

New initiative aims to improve quality of published scientific research

FRIDAY, June 27 (HealthDay News) -- There are dozens of scientific research reporting guidelines and the way in which they are developed is broadly similar, but they also differ in crucial aspects and many developers lack a strategy for the dissemination and implementation of research guides, according to an article published in the June issue of PLoS Medicine.

Iveta Simera, of the Centre for Statistics in Medicine in Oxford, U.K., and colleagues analyzed 37 reporting guidelines using a 25-item questionnaire to ascertain the reasons for development, how they were disseminated, as well as the uptake, impact and funding of the guidelines.

There was a diverse range of guidelines including well-known general guides and those targeted at specific types of studies. Most were developed by an international, multidisciplinary team and were motivated by the poor quality of reporting, a factor cited by 87 percent of respondents, but only half had a strategy for dissemination and implementation of their guidelines. The U.K. National Health Service has set up the EQUATOR Network (Enhancing the Quality and Transparency of Health Research) to attempt to improve the quality and uptake of reporting guidelines.

"We hope that EQUATOR will act as an 'umbrella' organization, bringing together developers of reporting guidelines, medical journal editors and peer reviewers, research funding bodies, and other key stakeholders with a mutual interest in improving the quality of research publications and research itself," the authors write.

Some of the study's authors have been involved in the development of reporting guidelines.

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