Reporting transparency: making the ethical mandate explicit

BMC Med. 2016 Mar 16;14:44. doi: 10.1186/s12916-016-0587-5.


Improving the transparency and quality of reporting in biomedical research is considered ethically important; yet, this is often based on practical reasons such as the facilitation of peer review. Surprisingly, there has been little explicit discussion regarding the ethical obligations that underpin reporting guidelines. In this commentary, we suggest a number of ethical drivers for the improved reporting of research. These ethical drivers relate to researcher integrity as well as to the benefits derived from improved reporting such as the fair use of resources, minimizing risk of harms, and maximizing benefits. Despite their undoubted benefit to reporting completeness, questions remain regarding the extent to which reporting guidelines can influence processes beyond publication, including researcher integrity or the uptake of scientific research findings into policy or practice. Thus, we consider investigation on the effects of reporting guidelines an important step in providing evidence of their benefits.

Keywords: Moral obligations; Publication bias; Research personnel/ethics; Research waste; Social values; Standards.

Publication types

  • Editorial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / ethics*
  • Ethical Review
  • Ethics Committees, Research
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / ethics*
  • Humans
  • Morals
  • Peer Review / ethics*
  • Publishing / ethics*
  • Publishing / standards
  • Research Design / standards