MET workshops

Using reporting guidelines to help research articles meet journal requirements for reproducibility and completeness

A journal article is the record of a piece of research. It should contain everything a reader needs to understand the study, judge its validity, use its findings, replicate it, or include it in a systematic review. Researchers often find it difficult to know what level of detail to include in their articles to meet these requirements.

Reporting guidelines aim to help in manuscript preparation by providing lists of the minimum information that should be included for a particular type of study. Many journals support the use of reporting guidelines, requiring their use and the submission of a completed checklist alongside a manuscript. Yet many researchers are unsure how to find the right reporting guideline for their study and apply it. Editors, translators, and other writing professionals can help ensure the manuscripts they work on are compliant with a reporting guideline.

This workshop focuses on reporting guidelines developed for research involving humans or animals, such as health research, education, and veterinary medicine.

Developer and facilitator: Dr Jennifer de Beyer, UK EQUATOR Centre

Purpose: To introduce editors, translators, and other writing professionals to reporting guidelines and develop the skills to use reporting guidelines in the manuscripts they work on.

Description and structure: This interactive workshop combines short presentations, examples, discussion, and practical exercises. Participants will receive a handout with information summaries and example texts. The workshop is split into two 90-minute sessions.

The first session will start with introductions, workshop objectives, and participants’ goals. We will discuss the role of the journal article in transmitting information and how poor reporting affects all research users. Reporting guidelines will be introduced, including what they are and how and when in the article production process they can help. We will also talk about the range of reporting guidelines available. Learning will be consolidated in exercises using reporting guidelines to analyse completeness in manuscript sections and flow diagrams.

The second session will cover how to select an appropriate reporting guideline for a study, including how to identify broad study design characteristics (exploratory vs confirmatory, descriptive vs analytic, observational vs experimental, qualitative vs quantitative, longitudinal vs cross-sectional), and then put this into practice in an exercise. We will discuss translations of some reporting guidelines and opportunities to contribute to future translation work.

We will also spend time talking about the realities of using reporting guidelines in your editing practice. We will discuss the range of ways journals and peer reviewers implement reporting guidelines, common objections to reporting guidelines, and other problems encountered by participants. Participants will share best-practice tips, and brainstorm solutions.

Who should attend? Manuscript translators and editors, including freelance copy editors, in-house copy editors, and authors’ editors, who work in disciplines that use human or animal participants in research, such as biomedicine, pharmacology, sociology, psychology, education, and veterinary medicine.

Outcome skills: After the workshop, attendees will understand what reporting guidelines are and how to use them. They will be comfortable identifying the study design in a manuscript, finding and recommending an appropriate reporting guideline, and highlighting missing information to guide the author.

Pre-workshop information: This is an introductory workshop and no prior knowledge on reporting guidelines will be assumed. You are welcome to browse the EQUATOR Network website before the workshop. You can also send any questions about reporting guidelines that you’d like addressed to or on Twitter @EQUATORNetwork. Those familiar with the use of reporting guidelines in their practice are also encouraged to attend, to share best-practice tips and brainstorm solutions to common issues.
About the facilitator: After training in biochemistry research and working in academic editing, Jennifer de Beyer joined the EQUATOR Network’s UK Centre at the Centre for Statistics in Medicine, University of Oxford. Here she develops online and in-person training on academic writing skills and using guidelines for clear, transparent health research reporting.

The EQUATOR Network is an international initiative dedicated to improving the quality and transparency of health research. It focuses on research reporting, so that future research will be based on a sound body of evidence. Members work towards this goal by raising awareness of reporting guidelines and other writing tools, providing online resources, and developing education and training.