Results of a longitudinal study of rigorous manuscript submission guidelines designed to improve the quality of clinical research reporting in a peer-reviewed surgical journal

J Pediatr Surg. 2011 Jan;46(1):131-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2010.09.077.


Background/purpose: In an effort to improve the reporting quality of clinical research, the Journal of Pediatric Surgery instituted specific reporting guidelines for authors beginning June 2006. This study was conducted to evaluate whether these guidelines improved reporting of observational studies.

Methods: The Guidelines for the Reporting of Clinical Research Data (Guidelines) included 23 criteria in 3 subcategories: Methods, Results, and More than one treatment group. Reporting quality was evaluated by determining the percentage of criteria met. Seventy-three articles before implementation and 147 articles after implementation were independently assessed by 2 reviewers.

Results: Mean global composite scores increased from 72.2 pre-Guidelines to 80.1 post-Guidelines (P < .0001). Scores increased in each subcategory: Methods, 71.9 to 78.6 (P < .0001); Results, 77.2 to 83.0 (P = .002); and More than one treatment group, 40.0 to 70.6 (P = .0003). Post-Guidelines implementation scores have increased over time.

Conclusions: The introduction of the Guidelines resulted in significant improvement in the quality of reporting in the Journal. The low cost vs the benefit suggests that the Guidelines can be an effective way to improve reporting quality in nonrandomized studies. We encourage further efforts to increase inclusion of reporting criteria as well as evaluation and improvement of the Guidelines. We suggest that editors of other surgical publications consider implementing analogous guidelines.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / standards
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • General Surgery*
  • Guidelines as Topic*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Observation
  • Pediatrics*
  • Peer Review / standards*
  • Peer Review, Research / methods
  • Periodicals as Topic / standards*
  • Research Report / standards
  • Writing / standards*