Making reporting guidelines more useful for authors and language professionals: In biomedical science and beyond

Jennifer de Beyer, United Kingdom

This talk from the UK EQUATOR Centre (www.equator-network.org) will introduce reporting guidelines, why and how they are developed and disseminated, their quality, and the evidence for them.

Reporting guidelines aim to help authors in preparing journal articles by listing the minimum information needed about a particular study design in order for the results to be replicated or used. Originating in the biomedical sciences in the 1990s, they have since spread to research areas such as education, livestock, and environmental research – and new fields continue to adopt them. As funders and journals endorse and sometimes require their use, language professionals are often asked to use reporting guidelines or suggest checklists themselves. They could be required either to guide manuscript development or to flag missing information during copy-editing. However, reporting quality remains poor in every study design and research area studied, despite the promotion of reporting guidelines.

I will talk about why reporting quality has been slow to improve and what is being done in response. One reason is that users often struggle to choose an appropriate reporting guideline, there being more than 400 available for research involving people alone. In the absence of an agreed-upon development methodology or an overseeing body, the quality and utility of reporting guidelines remains variable, in addition to which the guidelines have overlapping and competing applications. Ongoing work to improve the way in which guidelines are developed and disseminated, and how users are supported, will be presented, as will the tools for authors and editors to use. I shall include in my presentation the role that language professionals can play in promoting reproducibility through reporting guidelines and in influencing how they are developed and disseminated.

 

About the presenter

Jennifer de Beyer

After training in laboratory research and working in academic editing, Jennifer de Beyer joined the EQUATOR Network’s UK Centre at the Centre for Statistics in Medicine (CSM), University of Oxford. Here she develops online and in-person training in academic writing and using reporting guidelines for clear, transparent research reporting. She also provides editing and writing support for CSM’s team of medical statisticians and methodologists.

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 is based on a sound body of evidence. Through its four centres in the United Kingdom, Canada, France and Australia, EQUATOR raises awareness of reporting guidelines, provides online resources, develops education and training, and conducts research into research quality and transparency.

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