Reporting guidelines in oncology

We have run Writing Club workshops about reporting guidelines, mostly about PRISMA.  A new paper (1) from members of the Equator Network outlines the reasons why reporting guidelines are needed and how they can help you report your research.   It discusses generic reporting guidelines but also oncology specific ones.

If you are writing up your research or study, and have not been able to make one of our workshops, have a look at the paper.   It is open access.

(1) MacCarthy A, Kirtley S, de Beyer JA, Altman DG, Simera I.  Reporting guidelines for oncology research: helping to maximise the impact of your research.  Br J Cancer. 2018;118:619–28.  Available from [Accessed 15th March 2018].


March Writing Club postponed

March’s meeting was scheduled for Thursday March 15th but due to low take up, we have postponed it until a future date.

Watch for details of that new date.

We are grateful to Rachael Dowling for being willing to speak at the Writing Club.   If you are in UHL and have research you want to talk to the media about, she would be pleased to hear from you.

Postponed: Presenting your research to the media

Very few attendees so we have postponed this meeting.  We will rearrange it for a later date: watch for details.

The next Writing Club is on Thursday March 15th at 1 pm.   We welcome Rachael Dowling, UHL Research Communications Manager.  Rachael will talk about presenting your research to the media.

What do journalists look for in a research story? How can you build your own research stories for the media? Where does social media fit into this picture?

If you want to tell the media about your research or other work, come along to find out more.    The meeting is from 1 – 2 pm in the Odames Meeting Room, Odames Library, Victoria Building, LRI.   Book a place by email, or phone extension 5558.   All UHL and LPT staff, and medical students on placement, welcome.

This is an updated repeat of the Writing Club meeting of September 2017.

Core outcome sets

A core outcome set (COS) is a minimum set of outcomes, a recommendation of what ought to be reported in all trials.    This definition is taken from COMET (  COMET is a project that is collecting resources relevant to core outcomes sets.  It includes a database of COS, and there are plentiful examples of COS because the outcomes that you would want to report vary by clinical area.   I searched the database for cardiology and found 14 studies that report a core outcome set.   A perhaps more realistic search would be to search for a condition, so searching for atrial fibrillation finds 4 studies, one each for trials of Chinese traditional medicine, patient reported outcomes, studies of ablation and outcome parameters.

The database is being added to, as there is a systematic review underway to identify studies.

Two recent papers about core outcome sets are:

Kirkham JJ, Davis K, Altman DG, Blazeby JM, Clarke M, Tunis S, Williamson PR.
Core Outcome Set-STAndards for Development: The COS-STAD recommendations.
PLoS Med. 2017 Nov 16;14(11):e1002447. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002447.

This looks at quality assessment of core outcome sets, trying to identify minimum standards to be followed by developers of COS.

Clarke M, Williamson PR.
Core outcome sets and systematic reviews.
Syst Rev.2016 Jan 20;5:11. doi: 10.1186/s13643-016-0188-6.

This argues for a greater involvement of systematic reviewers in the development of COS, and consideration of COS when registering a review in PROSPERO.   Synthesis of studies is made difficult by inconsistencies in COS in the studies being synthesised.



ICMJE announcement on predatory journals

The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors have published a news item about “Fake”, “Predatory” and “Pseudo” journals.

It includes a definition of these types of journal, and reasons why they pose a threat and should be avoided.

It points to the World Association of Medical Editors’ guidance.  WAME discuss places to check a journal out – the now no longer updated Beall’s List of predatory journals, and the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) – and using the Think Check Submit checklist, when deciding where to submit.   Choosing a journal was also discussed at Carolyn Tarrant’s recent Writing Club.

If you are not sure about the journal you want to submit to, ask colleagues who have experience of being published and knowledge of which journals are the core ones.   Your librarians can help too – we can identify core journals, and would be happy to investigate a journal you are thinking of submitting to.

I get emails from what I suspect are predatory journals, inviting me to write an article.      Alarm bells ring when I am addressed wrongly (Dear Dr Nockels,) or not at all (Dear, ) .  Some of the emails are badly written or edited, and they often approach me for work in fields I am supposed to be an expert in but about which I know nothing.   I also worry about journals that claim to cover a strange mix of subjects, like (fictional, these, probably) “International Journal of Microbiology and Lunar Studies” or “Microbiology and Science”.

I suspect that if any reputable journal wanted me to write an invited article, it would approach me in a rather more personal way.   Not that this has ever happened, yet, anyway….

Responding to reviewers

For our January meeting we were pleased to welcome Dr Carolyn Tarrant from the University of Leicester.   Carolyn is Associate Professor in Health Psychology, and a member of the SAPPHIRE research group within the Department of Health Sciences.

Here is the third post about the meeting.  Here are Carolyn’s slides. 

How do you respond to reviewers?

Consider creating a table, so you can give your responses in a structured way and demonstrate clearly that you have addressed each concern.   Explain what you have added or taken away from your draft.

You can consider a “rebuttal” if you feel that you have already addressed the reviewer’s concern, or that the concern is in some way not valid.   You must, of course, justify your arguments and not just dismiss the concern!

Your revised draft will be sent for review again, and you may get further comments from reviewers.

The editor, or associate editor, can at any point in the submission process, reject your paper.

If your paper has many co-authors, make sure you know whose responsibility it is make sure that reviewers’ comments are addressed, and who it is that will send those comments back.

We are grateful to Carolyn for coming to speak at the Writing Club.