Trial registration. Free, easy and important.

As part of our commitment to the International Committee on Medical Journal Editors, we at the Archives of Diseases in Childhood have supported the idea that all trials with a health-related outcome should be registered before they are undertaken, and made it obligatory for trials in our journal.

The reason for this is clear – it is to encourage the accurate and truthful reporting of a study, and avoid issues of altered interventions, meandering outcomes and selective outcome reporting (for more on that, see our recent blog here). It’s easy to do this; there are a range of international and freely accessible trial registries on which the information can be logged. It’s even possible to do this for systematic reviews – for exactly the same reasons.

The minimum amount of information we’d like to see is the same as the WHO; essentially we want to see what the trial was intending to do, and to whom, how it was intending to measure its chosen outcomes, who was controlling it, who was paying for it and a clear identifier to make sure it can’t get mixed up with any other studies.

We’re not stating which registry is has to be recorded in. We’re not demanding that the trial report has to match the stated initial protocol – although we’ll be requesting authors to explain any variations and would encourage our readers to challenge authors if they feel their explanations are insufficient. We just need you, the trialist, to take a step towards clear and open clinical trials and register your study. Make it the next things on your list, when you have the Ethics approval, after a nice cup of tea.

Simples, init?

– Bob Phillips

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