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2.  Reporting characteristics of non-primary publications of results of randomized trials: a cross-sectional review 
Trials  2013;14:240.
For a randomized trial, the primary publication is usually the one which reports the results of the primary outcome and provides consolidated data from all study centers. Other aspects of a randomized trial’s findings (that is, non-primary results) are often reported in subsequent publications.
We carried out a cross-sectional review of the characteristics and type of information reported in non-primary reports (n = 69) of randomized trials (indexed in PubMed core clinical journals in 2009) and whether they report pre-specified or exploratory analyses. We also compared consistency of information in non-primary publications with that reported in the primary publication.
The majority (n = 56; 81%) of non-primary publications were large, multicenter trials, published in specialty journals. Most reported subgroup analyses (n = 27; 39%), analyzing a specific subgroup of patients from the randomized trial, or reported on secondary outcomes (n = 29; 42%); 19% (n = 13) reported extended follow-up. Less than half reported details of trial registration (n = 30; 43%) or the trial protocol (n = 27; 39%) and in 41% (n = 28) it was unclear from reading the abstract that the report was not the primary publication for the trial. Non-primary publications often analyzed and reported multiple different outcomes (16% reported >20 outcomes) and in 10% (n = 7) it was unclear how many outcomes had actually been assessed; in 42% (n = 29) it was unclear whether the analyses reported were pre-specified or exploratory. Only 39% (n = 27) of non-primary publications described the primary outcome of the randomized trial, 6% (n = 4) reported its numerical results and 9% (n = 6) details of how participants were randomized.
Non-primary publications often lack important information about the randomized trial and the type of analyses conducted and whether these were pre-specified or exploratory to enable readers to accurately identify and assess the validity and reliably of the study findings. We provide recommendations for what information authors should include in non-primary reports of randomized trials.
PMCID: PMC3733891  PMID: 23902608
Randomized controlled trial; Non-primary publication; Subgroup analyses; Secondary outcomes
3.  Does journal endorsement of reporting guidelines influence the completeness of reporting of health research? A systematic review protocol 
Systematic Reviews  2012;1:24.
Reporting of health research is often inadequate and incomplete. Complete and transparent reporting is imperative to enable readers to assess the validity of research findings for use in healthcare and policy decision-making. To this end, many guidelines, aimed at improving the quality of health research reports, have been developed for reporting a variety of research types. Despite efforts, many reporting guidelines are underused. In order to increase their uptake, evidence of their effectiveness is important and will provide authors, peer reviewers and editors with an important resource for use and implementation of pertinent guidance. The objective of this study was to assess whether endorsement of reporting guidelines by journals influences the completeness of reporting of health studies.
Guidelines providing a minimum set of items to guide authors in reporting a specific type of research, developed with explicit methodology, and using a consensus process will be identified from an earlier systematic review and from the EQUATOR (Enhancing the QUAlity and Transparency Of health Research) Network’s reporting guidelines library. MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane Methodology Register and Scopus will be searched for evaluations of those reporting guidelines; relevant evaluations from the recently conducted CONSORT systematic review will also be included. Single data extraction with 10% verification of study characteristics, 20% of outcomes and complete verification of aspects of study validity will be carried out. We will include evaluations of reporting guidelines that assess the completeness of reporting: (1) before and after journal endorsement, and/or (2) between endorsing and non-endorsing journals. For a given guideline, analyses will be conducted for individual and the total sum of items. When possible, standard, pooled effects with 99% confidence intervals using random effects models will be calculated.
Evidence on which guidelines have been evaluated and which are associated with improved completeness of reporting is important for various stakeholders, including editors who consider which guidelines to endorse in their journal editorial policies.
PMCID: PMC3482392  PMID: 22626029
Reporting guidelines; Evaluation; Systematic review; Completeness of reporting
4.  Are Peer Reviewers Encouraged to Use Reporting Guidelines? A Survey of 116 Health Research Journals 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e35621.
Pre-publication peer review of manuscripts should enhance the value of research publications to readers who may wish to utilize findings in clinical care or health policy-making. Much published research across all medical specialties is not useful, may be misleading, wasteful and even harmful. Reporting guidelines are tools that in addition to helping authors prepare better manuscripts may help peer reviewers in assessing them. We examined journals' instructions to peer reviewers to see if and how reviewers are encouraged to use them.
We surveyed websites of 116 journals from the McMaster list. Main outcomes were 1) identification of online instructions to peer reviewers and 2) presence or absence of key domains within instructions: on journal logistics, reviewer etiquette and addressing manuscript content (11 domains).
Only 41/116 journals (35%) provided online instructions. All 41 guided reviewers about the logistics of their review processes, 38 (93%) outlined standards of behaviour expected and 39 (95%) contained instruction about evaluating the manuscript content. There was great variation in explicit instruction for reviewers about how to evaluate manuscript content. Almost half of the online instructions 19/41 (46%) mentioned reporting guidelines usually as general statements suggesting they may be useful or asking whether authors had followed them rather than clear instructions about how to use them. All 19 named CONSORT for reporting randomized trials but there was little mention of CONSORT extensions. PRISMA, QUOROM (forerunner of PRISMA), STARD, STROBE and MOOSE were mentioned by several journals. No other reporting guideline was mentioned by more than two journals.
Although almost half of instructions mentioned reporting guidelines, their value in improving research publications is not being fully realised. Journals have a responsibility to support peer reviewers. We make several recommendations including wider reference to the EQUATOR Network online library (
PMCID: PMC3338712  PMID: 22558178
5.  Reporting of participant flow diagrams in published reports of randomized trials 
Trials  2011;12:253.
Reporting of the flow of participants through each stage of a randomized trial is essential to assess the generalisability and validity of its results. We assessed the type and completeness of information reported in CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) flow diagrams published in current reports of randomized trials.
A cross sectional review of all primary reports of randomized trials which included a CONSORT flow diagram indexed in PubMed core clinical journals (2009). We assessed the proportion of parallel group trial publications reporting specific items recommended by CONSORT for inclusion in a flow diagram.
Of 469 primary reports of randomized trials, 263 (56%) included a CONSORT flow diagram of which 89% (237/263) were published in a CONSORT endorsing journal. Reports published in CONSORT endorsing journals were more likely to include a flow diagram (62%; 237/380 versus 29%; 26/89). Ninety percent (236/263) of reports which included a flow diagram had a parallel group design, of which 49% (116/236) evaluated drug interventions, 58% (137/236) were multicentre, and 79% (187/236) compared two study groups, with a median sample size of 213 participants. Eighty-one percent (191/236) reported the overall number of participants assessed for eligibility, 71% (168/236) the number excluded prior to randomization and 98% (231/236) the overall number randomized. Reasons for exclusion prior to randomization were more poorly reported. Ninety-four percent (223/236) reported the number of participants allocated to each arm of the trial. However, only 40% (95/236) reported the number who actually received the allocated intervention, 67% (158/236) the number lost to follow up in each arm of the trial, 61% (145/236) whether participants discontinued the intervention during the trial and 54% (128/236) the number included in the main analysis.
Over half of published reports of randomized trials included a diagram showing the flow of participants through the trial. However, information was often missing from published flow diagrams, even in articles published in CONSORT endorsing journals. If important information is not reported it can be difficult and sometimes impossible to know if the conclusions of that trial are justified by the data presented.
PMCID: PMC3260171  PMID: 22141446
6.  Transparent and accurate reporting increases reliability, utility, and impact of your research: reporting guidelines and the EQUATOR Network 
BMC Medicine  2010;8:24.
Although current electronic methods of scientific publishing offer increased opportunities for publishing all research studies and describing them in sufficient detail, health research literature still suffers from many shortcomings. These shortcomings seriously undermine the value and utility of the literature and waste scarce resources invested in the research. In recent years there have been several positive steps aimed at improving this situation, such as a strengthening of journals' policies on research publication and the wide requirement to register clinical trials.
The EQUATOR (Enhancing the QUAlity and Transparency Of health Research) Network is an international initiative set up to advance high quality reporting of health research studies; it promotes good reporting practices including the wider implementation of reporting guidelines. EQUATOR provides free online resources supported by education and training activities and assists in the development of robust reporting guidelines. This paper outlines EQUATOR's goals and activities and offers suggestions for organizations and individuals involved in health research on how to strengthen research reporting.
PMCID: PMC2874506  PMID: 20420659
7.  Relation of completeness of reporting of health research to journals’ endorsement of reporting guidelines: systematic review 
Objective To assess whether the completeness of reporting of health research is related to journals’ endorsement of reporting guidelines.
Design Systematic review.
Data sources Reporting guidelines from a published systematic review and the EQUATOR Network (October 2011). Studies assessing the completeness of reporting by using an included reporting guideline (termed “evaluations”) (1990 to October 2011; addendum searches in January 2012) from searches of either Medline, Embase, and the Cochrane Methodology Register or Scopus, depending on reporting guideline name.
Study selection English language reporting guidelines that provided explicit guidance for reporting, described the guidance development process, and indicated use of a consensus development process were included. The CONSORT statement was excluded, as evaluations of adherence to CONSORT had previously been reviewed. English or French language evaluations of included reporting guidelines were eligible if they assessed the completeness of reporting of studies as a primary intent and those included studies enabled the comparisons of interest (that is, after versus before journal endorsement and/or endorsing versus non-endorsing journals).
Data extraction Potentially eligible evaluations of included guidelines were screened initially by title and abstract and then as full text reports. If eligibility was unclear, authors of evaluations were contacted; journals’ websites were consulted for endorsement information where needed. The completeness of reporting of reporting guidelines was analyzed in relation to endorsement by item and, where consistent with the authors’ analysis, a mean summed score.
Results 101 reporting guidelines were included. Of 15 249 records retrieved from the search for evaluations, 26 evaluations that assessed completeness of reporting in relation to endorsement for nine reporting guidelines were identified. Of those, 13 evaluations assessing seven reporting guidelines (BMJ economic checklist, CONSORT for harms, PRISMA, QUOROM, STARD, STRICTA, and STROBE) could be analyzed. Reporting guideline items were assessed by few evaluations.
Conclusions The completeness of reporting of only nine of 101 health research reporting guidelines (excluding CONSORT) has been evaluated in relation to journals’ endorsement. Items from seven reporting guidelines were quantitatively analyzed, by few evaluations each. Insufficient evidence exists to determine the relation between journals’ endorsement of reporting guidelines and the completeness of reporting of published health research reports. Journal editors and researchers should consider collaborative prospectively designed, controlled studies to provide more robust evidence.
Systematic review registration Not registered; no known register currently accepts protocols for methodology systematic reviews.
PMCID: PMC4070413  PMID: 24965222

Results 1-7 (7)