Top tips #1

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Reporting guidelines

November’s Writing Club looked at reporting guidelines.  The meeting was led by Keith Nockels, one of the Clinical Librarians.

Reporting guidelines, like CONSORT or PRISMA, give guidance on what to include when writing up a study.

Sometimes research articles do not give you enough detail to enable you to put their findings into practice.   A lack of detail can also make it difficult to include their findings in a systematic review.

A reporting guideline is a checklists of items that must be included when writing up. There are different reporting guidelines for different study types.   Using one can help you include all the detail that your readers and other researchers (and editors and peer reviewers!) want.

Many journals endorse their use, or require it (check the instructions to authors), but using one could be helpful in any circumstance.

CONSORT is the reporting guideline for RCTs.   There are several variants (called “extensions”, covering specific things like reporting harms, or RCTs of interventions that are not drugs).    PRISMA is the reporting guideline for systematic reviews.

In the Writing Club we looked at how to find a reporting guideline, and examined an article to see if it met the recommendations of CONSORT.

Attached are the slides (with notes, as a PDF).

To find a reporting guideline, try using the Equator Network Reporting Guideline Library.  You will see the most commonly referred to guidelines in a box on the right, or you can search by name, by study type or clinical area.