Suggestions for improving the reporting of clinical research: the role of narrative

Ann Emerg Med. 2005 Apr;45(4):437-43. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2004.09.022.


This article discusses the importance of narrative in reports of medical research. Stripped of all jargon and analytic technique, a scientific investigation is a story, and it is the nuances and details of the story that make it interpretable. While guidelines such as CONSORT have greatly improved the reporting of research, such guidelines are insufficient to ensure a meaningful reporting. The provision of explanatory narrative is essential. In this article, I propose that authors and journals exploit opportunities created by the worldwide Web to post supplementary material regarding their conception of the investigation, their execution of the study, their assumptions and limitations, and their rationale for any modeling efforts. I provide examples of how such narrative could be included in reports of randomized trials, observational studies, and studies of diagnostic tests.

MeSH terms

  • Information Dissemination / methods*
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design
  • Research*
  • Writing / standards*