Reporting guidelines: doing better for readers

BMC Med. 2018 Dec 14;16(1):233. doi: 10.1186/s12916-018-1226-0.


There is clear guidance on the responsibilities of editors to ensure that the research they publish is of the highest possible quality. Poor reporting is unethical and directly impacts patient care. Reporting guidelines are a relatively recent development to help improve the accuracy, clarity, and transparency of biomedical publications. They have caught on, with hundreds of reporting guidelines now available. Some journals endorse reporting guidelines while a smaller number have used various approaches to implement them. Yet challenges remain - biomedical research is still not optimally reported despite the abundance of reporting guidelines. Electronic algorithms are now being developed to facilitate the choice of correct reporting guideline(s), while other tools are being integrated into journal editorial management processes. Universities need to consider whether it is responsible to advance careers of faculty based on poorly reported research which is of little societal value. If journals embraced auditing of the quality of articles they publish this would give them and their readers essential feedback from which to improve their product.

Keywords: EQUATOR; Quality of reporting; audit and feedback; evidence; reporting guidelines; reproducibility.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / standards*
  • Humans
  • Publications / standards*
  • Publishing / standards*
  • Research Report / standards*