Interventions to Improve Adherence to Reporting Guidelines: A Scoping Review

David Blanco de Tena-Dávila,1 Jamie Kirkham,2 Douglas G. Altman,3 David Moher,4 Isabelle Boutron,5 Erik Cobo6

Objective To investigate interventions aiming to improve adherence to reporting guidelines.

Design Ongoing scoping review of interventions aiming to improve adherence to reporting guidelines. The review follows the Joanna Briggs Institute scoping review methods manual. Since we want to map the literature and comprehensively summarize the existing evidence, we consider the scoping review methodology the most suitable approach. After searching MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library databases, as well as Google Scholar, from January 1, 1996, to March 31, 2017, we identified 15 articles evaluating different actions to improve adherence to reporting guidelines. The reference lists of these articles are still to be screened. Articles suggesting but not assessing interventions were collected but have not yet been analyzed. The interventions found so far were classified according different criteria, in relation to the target population (journal policies, authors, editors, or reviewers) or the research stage at which they are performed (design, conduct, reporting, or peer review). After completing the review, descriptive statistical analysis will be performed to summarize the effect of the evaluated interventions on adherence to reporting guidelines. Moreover, a comprehensive summary of the suggested interventions found will be presented.

Results Preliminary results show that the majority of the interventions found (11/15 [73%]) have been assessed in the last 6 years, showing that developing strategies to improve adherence to reporting guidelines is becoming a critical issue in health research. Most of the interventions (10/15 [67%]) target journal policies, including weak or strong endorsement of reporting guidelines, compulsory trial registration, or active implementation of reporting guidelines over the course of the editorial process. Others target authors (3/15 [20%]) or reviewers (2/15 [13%]). Few interventions (4/15 [27%]) were evaluated by a randomized trial, and none of these few interventions targeted journal policies. Although the effect of the interventions found varies greatly among studies, results of the review to date suggest that active implementation strategies of reporting adherence to guidelines over the course of the editorial process tend to improve completeness of reporting.

Conclusions Few interventions aiming to improve adherence to reporting guidelines have been assessed. Our preliminary results show that most editorial policies have been adopted without the previous best evidence. Further efforts should be taken to evaluate interventions by randomized trials. Moreover, journals should take action to encourage the use of reporting guidelines from early stages of research and also to actively implement guidelines in the editorial process.

1Statistics and Operations Research Department, Barcelona Tech, Barcelona, Spain, david.blanco.tena@upc.edu; 2Department of Biostatistics, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK; 3Centre for Statistics in Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK; 4Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; 5Centre d’Epidémiologie Clinique, Paris Descartes University, Paris, France; 6Statistics and Operations Research Department, Barcelona Tech, Barcelona, Spain

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported. Douglas G. Altman, David Moher, and Isabelle Boutron are members of the Peer Review Congress Advisory Board but were not involved in the review of or decision for this abstract.

Funding/Support: This scoping review belongs to the ESR 14 research project from the Methods in Research on Research (MiRoR) project, which has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 676207.

Role of Funder/Sponsor: The funders had no role in the design and conduct of this study.

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