Use of trial register information during the peer review process

PLoS One. 2013 Apr 10;8(4):e59910. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059910. Print 2013.


Introduction: Evidence in the medical literature suggests that trial registration may not be preventing selective reporting of results. We wondered about the place of such information in the peer-review process.

Method: We asked 1,503 corresponding authors of clinical trials and 1,733 reviewers to complete an online survey soliciting their views on the use of trial registry information during the peer-review process.

Results: 1,136 authors (n = 713) and reviewers (n = 423) responded (37.5%); 676 (59.5%) had reviewed an article reporting a clinical trial in the past 2 years. Among these, 232 (34.3%) examined information registered on a trial registry. If one or more items (primary outcome, eligibility criteria, etc.) differed between the registry record and the manuscript, 206 (88.8%) mentioned the discrepancy in their review comments, 46 (19.8%) advised editors not to accept the manuscript, and 8 did nothing. The reviewers' reasons for not using the trial registry information included a lack of registration number in the manuscript (n = 132; 34.2%), lack of time (n = 128; 33.2%), lack of usefulness of registered information for peer review (n = 100; 25.9%), lack of awareness about registries (n = 54; 14%), and excessive complexity of the process (n = 39; 10.1%).

Conclusion: This survey revealed that only one-third of the peer reviewers surveyed examined registered trial information and reported any discrepancies to journal editors.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic*
  • Peer Review, Health Care*

Grant support

These authors have no support or funding to report.