Barriers to Using Research: Reducing Flawed, Inappropriate, and Poorly Reported Research

Paul Glasziou1,2

Recognition of flawed and incomplete reporting of research has a long history, going back to the earliest scientific journals in the 17th century. The 20th century saw an increasing examination of the frequency and nature of reporting flaws, and the subsequent growth of reporting guidelines such as the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT), its many extensions, and relatives.1 With currently more than 400 reporting guidelines on the Enhancing the Quality and Transparency of Health Research (EQUATOR) Network website, attention has shifted to improving the usage and uptake of reporting guidelines, but progress has been slow.

The requirement by journals to use reporting guidelines is an initial and important but insufficient step. A mix of additional strategies is needed that are adapted to the different stages of the research process. The strategies need to make good reporting of research possible, easier, normative, and rewarding; and finally the strategies must be required. Reporting can be made easier through guideline-compliant templates and automation tools and by encouraging use of these templates and tools at the design stage. Good reporting should be built into the formulation, design, and conduct of research rather than retrofitted prior to publication.

This talk will cover the broad scope of problems of reporting and reporting guidelines but in particular examine 2 examples: (1) the Template for Intervention Description and Replication (TIDieR) statement2 and its related templates, the TIDier Author Tool (http://www.tidierguide.org/#/author- tool), and its translations and adaptations, and (2) the use of computer-aided research, such as automation tools for systematic reviews3 that have the potential to make research more efficient and to improve the quality of reporting by building in the elements of guidelines such as the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guideline. Development, training, and use of such tools early in research projects is vital to improve the quality of research processes and reporting.


1. Altman DG, Simera I. A history of the evolution of guidelines for reporting medical research: the long road to the EQUATOR Network. J R Soc Med. 2016;109(2):67-77. doi:10.1177/0141076815625599

2. Hoffmann TC, Glasziou PP, Boutron I, et al. Better reporting of interventions: Template for Intervention Description and Replication (TIDieR) checklist and guide. BMJ. 2014;348:g1687. doi:10.1136/bmj.g1687

3. Clark J, Glasziou P, Del Mar C, Bannach-Brown A, Stehlik P, Scott AM. A full systematic review was completed in 2 weeks using automation tools: a case study. J Clin Epidemiol. 2020;121:81-90. doi:10.1016/j.jclinepi.2020.01.008

1Institute for Evidence-Based Healthcare, Bond University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, paul_glasziou@bond.edu.au;
2Health Sciences and Medicine, Bond University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

Conflict of Interest Disclosures

Paul Glasziou is codirector of the Australian EQUATOR Centre.


Paul Glasziou is supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council) Investigator grant (1080042).