METM19 presentation

Editorial interventions to improve transparency of randomized controlled trials

David Blanco, Barcelona, Spain

Improving the transparency and accuracy of research methods and findings is one of the key global challenges in biomedical publishing. Without transparent reporting, readers cannot judge the reliability of findings and data cannot be included in systematic reviews. Hundreds of different reporting guidelines for different study types and research areas have been created in the last two decades to help authors adequately report the research methods and findings. The most consolidated reporting guideline is the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) for randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Although biomedical journals have taken different actions to improve author adherence to CONSORT, their effect has been lower than desired. 

In this presentation, I will first present the results of an RCT that my research team and I are currently performing in collaboration with BMJ Open, an open-access journal that publishes medical research. This study aims to evaluate in a real editorial context the effect on completeness of reporting of the following actions: 1) assessing during peer review the consistency between the CONSORT checklist submitted by authors alongside their RCT manuscript and the information reported in the manuscript, and 2) writing up a peer review report providing feedback to authors on the inconsistencies found. I will explain how I performed point 2) of the intervention and comment on how authors reacted to it.

In the second part of the presentation, I will engage with journal editors and translators, and discuss further strategies that could be implemented at different points of the editorial process to improve the transparency of RCTs and other study types. Moreover, we will debate how biomedical journals and their readers can benefit from this improvement. 

I hope this presentation will be relevant for different stakeholders attending the meeting and will lead to further action towards the common goal of improving the transparency of research. 

About the presenter

David Blanco is a PhD research fellow within the Methods in Research on Research (MiRoR) project, an innovative doctoral training programme funded by Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions that aims to reduce waste in research and increase research value. He obtained a BSc degree in Mathematics and an MSc degree in Mathematics and Applications at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain). Before starting his PhD, he carried out a two-year project on risk management for insurance companies at the Hochschule für Technik (Stuttgart). His PhD focuses on identifying and assessing interventions to improve adherence to reporting guidelines in biomedical research.