Clear reporting of methodology
Over many years Doug Altman, professor of medical statistics, and other methodologists have come to the rescue through publications on study design and analysis and through developing standardised ways of reporting research clearly and fully. The best known of these reporting guidelines is the CONSORT (CONsolidated Standards Of Reporting Trials) statement, which has been shown to improve the clarity and completeness of published randomised controlled trials (Plint et al, 2006).
There are now more than 80 similar guidelines for different kinds of biomedical study and, helpfully, these are all available in a free and open online library called the EQUATOR network (Enhancing the QUAlity and Transparency Of health Research).
The key reporting guidelines are:
- Randomised controlled trials (RCTs): CONSORT guidelines
- Systematic reviews and meta-analyses: PRISMA guidelines and MOOSE guidelines
- Observational studies in epidemiology: STROBE guidelines and MOOSE guidelines
- Diagnostic accuracy studies: STARD guidelines
- Quality improvement studies: SQUIRE guidelines
- Multivariate prediction models: TRIPOD guidelines
- Animal pre-clinical studies: ARRIVE guidelines
If you are not sure which guidelines are the most relevant for your type of study, please use the online tool developed by the EQUATOR Network and Penelope Research.
This section was adapted from an article by Dr Trish Groves, BMJ’s Director of Academic Outreach.
Oral Diseases (2010) 16, 313-315.