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Systematic Reviews

, 1:24

First Online: 24 May 2012Received: 28 February 2012Accepted: 10 April 2012DOI: 10.1186-2046-4053-1-24

Cite this article as: Shamseer, L., Stevens, A., Skidmore, B. et al. Syst Rev 2012 1: 24. doi:10.1186-2046-4053-1-24


BackgroundReporting of health research is often inadequate and incomplete. Complete and transparent reporting is imperative to enable readers to assess the validity of research findings for use in healthcare and policy decision-making. To this end, many guidelines, aimed at improving the quality of health research reports, have been developed for reporting a variety of research types. Despite efforts, many reporting guidelines are underused. In order to increase their uptake, evidence of their effectiveness is important and will provide authors, peer reviewers and editors with an important resource for use and implementation of pertinent guidance. The objective of this study was to assess whether endorsement of reporting guidelines by journals influences the completeness of reporting of health studies.

MethodsGuidelines providing a minimum set of items to guide authors in reporting a specific type of research, developed with explicit methodology, and using a consensus process will be identified from an earlier systematic review and from the EQUATOR Enhancing the QUAlity and Transparency Of health Research Network’s reporting guidelines library. MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane Methodology Register and Scopus will be searched for evaluations of those reporting guidelines; relevant evaluations from the recently conducted CONSORT systematic review will also be included. Single data extraction with 10% verification of study characteristics, 20% of outcomes and complete verification of aspects of study validity will be carried out. We will include evaluations of reporting guidelines that assess the completeness of reporting: 1 before and after journal endorsement, and-or 2 between endorsing and non-endorsing journals. For a given guideline, analyses will be conducted for individual and the total sum of items. When possible, standard, pooled effects with 99% confidence intervals using random effects models will be calculated.

DiscussionEvidence on which guidelines have been evaluated and which are associated with improved completeness of reporting is important for various stakeholders, including editors who consider which guidelines to endorse in their journal editorial policies.

KeywordsReporting guidelines Evaluation Systematic review Completeness of reporting AbbreviationsEQUATOREnhancing the Quallity and Transparency of health Research

CONSORTConsolidated Standards of Reporting Trials

STARDStandards for the Reporting of Diagnostic Accuracy

STRICTAStandards for Reporting Interventions in Clinical Trials of Acupuncture

PRISMAPreferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses

PRESSPeer Review of Electronic Search Strategies

STROBEStrengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology

RRRelative risk

SMDStandardized mean difference.

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-2046-4053-1-24 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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