Unique opportunity for health researchers to test a new manuscript writing aid

 

At BMJ Open, we support initiatives to improve reporting and make life easier for authors who are writing up their research, which is why we are pleased to share this opportunity from The Equator Network to help shape a new writing aid. 

Caroline Struthers, Senior EQUATOR Research Fellow, explains.

In 2018, the UK EQUATOR Centre at the University of Oxford created a new website – GoodReports.org – designed to help authors find and use reporting guidelines.  Reporting guidelines such as CONSORT, STROBE, and PRISMA exist for all main study designs. They are intended to help researchers to include all the information needed for readers to understand and assess the quality of the research. We were delighted to partner with BMJ Open to explore the experience and behaviour of GoodReports users, and we published the results of this work last year. 

The data we collected suggested that reporting guidance would be more useful if it were delivered earlier in the writing process.  Our data also showed that this guidance is less user-friendly when delivered in the standard common “checklist” format.   We are now trialling a way of providing reporting guidance to health researchers at an earlier stage in the writing process, and in a format that is designed to make following the guidance easier.

New template trial

The GoodReports Randomized Trial (GRReaT) is comparing the completeness of reporting between a group who were given an article template containing items from the appropriate reporting guideline for their study design with a control group who were given a reporting guideline recommendation along with general reporting guidance

We are looking for trial participants who will be writing up the following types of health-related study:

  • Cohort study
  • Case-control study
  • Cross-sectional study
  • Observational study in nutrition or dietetics
  • Systematic review (of a healthcare intervention)
  • Randomized trial of a pharmaceutical, medical device, procedure, or social or psychological intervention

As a thank you for participating in the trial, all trial participants will receive a “completeness” report on their draft manuscript from reporting experts at the UK EQUATOR Centre, highlighting where information is missing and including other writing tips. Participants can use this report to improve their manuscript before they submit it, which may mean a smoother journey through peer review and the editorial process.

For more information on eligibility, please visit the trial webpage (https://www.goodreports.org/grreat/) or the trial pre-registration page on the Open Science Platform (https://osf.io/d8u76).

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