Reporting guidelines (e.g. CONSORT) have been developed as tools to improve quality and reduce bias in reporting research findings. Trial registration has been recommended for countering selective publication. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) encourages the implementation of reporting guidelines and trial registration as uniform requirements (URM). For the last two decades, however, biased reporting and insufficient registration of clinical trials has been identified in several literature reviews and other investigations. No study has so far investigated the extent to which author instructions in psychiatry journals encourage following reporting guidelines and trial registration.
Psychiatry Journals were identified from the 2011 Journal Citation Report. Information given in the author instructions and during the submission procedure of all journals was assessed on whether major reporting guidelines, trial registration and the ICMJE’s URM in general were mentioned and adherence recommended.
We included 123 psychiatry journals (English and German language) in our analysis. A minority recommend or require 1) following the URM (21%), 2) adherence to reporting guidelines such as CONSORT, PRISMA, STROBE (23%, 7%, 4%), or 3) registration of clinical trials (34%). The subsample of the top-10 psychiatry journals (ranked by impact factor) provided much better but still improvable rates. For example, 70% of the top-10 psychiatry journals do not ask for the specific trial registration number.
Under the assumption that better reported and better registered clinical research that does not lack substantial information will improve the understanding, credibility, and unbiased translation of clinical research findings, several stakeholders including readers (physicians, patients), authors, reviewers, and editors might benefit from improved author instructions in psychiatry journals. A first step of improvement would consist in requiring adherence to the broadly accepted reporting guidelines and to trial registration.