Reducing bias in systematic reviews – a bid for registration

The Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, based at the University of York in the UK, has just launched a new initiative for online registration of proposed and ongoing systematic reviews. Those behind the initiative describe in a recent Lancet article the underlying aims of the project — to minimise and discourage publication biases, to encourage publication of full results and transparency of reporting, and to improve overall quality. The effort closely parallels trial registration efforts (eg such as those of World Health Organization’s International Clinical Trial Registry Platform) in proposing, for example, that the forthcoming registry be free to all to access, freely searchable, and open to all registrants worldwide. As for registered trials, new systematic reviews would be given unique registry numbers which could then be used to identify publications emerging from the systematic review. The Centre is currently conducting a Delphi consultation exercise to collect feedback from interested parties as to the scope of the registry, its minimum dataset, and other aspects of how it should work. All those interested in conducting or using systematic reviews should consider providing input to the consultation, which closes 2nd August 2010.

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