Objective: During the past two decades teams of researchers and editors have developed a variety of publishing guidelines to improve the quality of published research reports. Journals and editorial groups have adopted many of these guidelines. Whereas some guidelines are widely used, others have yet to be generally applied, thwarting attainment of consistent reporting among published research reports. The aim of this study is to describe the development and adoption of general publication guidelines for various study designs, provide examples of guidelines adapted for specific topics, and recommend next steps.
Study design and setting: We reviewed generic guidelines for reporting research results and surveyed their use in PubMed and Science Citation Index.
Results: Existing guidelines cover a broad spectrum of research designs, but there are still gaps in topics and use. Appropriate next steps include increasing use of available guidelines and their adoption among journals, educating peer reviewers on their use, and incorporating guideline use into the curriculum of medical, nursing, and public health schools.
Conclusion: Wider adoption of existing guidelines should result in research that is increasingly reported in a standardized, consistent manner.
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