As experts in their field, many authors assume they already know the best way to report their research findings, but this is not always true. Reporting guidelines are designed help make sure that you don’t forget to include crucial bits of information that might be obvious to you as the author, but not necessarily obvious to your audience. Reporting checklists are not just exercises in ticking boxes – they are about helping you to effectively communicate what you have done so that it can be widely read, used, and influence future work in the field. It is not only frustrating to read a research paper where key pieces of information about the methods or results are missing, but more importantly, inadequate research reporting and can lead to biases in interpretation of research and wasted resources in attempts to replicate the methods.
Many researchers are unaware of the growing number of resources that can be used to guide preparation of research manuscripts and improve the quality of reporting. A new PLOS Reporting Guidelines Collection, including papers from PLOS Medicine, PLOS ONE, PLOS Biology, PLOS Computational Biology, and PLOS NTDs, aims to highlight some of these resources and has been launched to coincide with the Seventh International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication, held in Chicago from September 8 to 10, 2013. The collection is consistent with the goals of the Peer Review Congress: “to improve the quality and credibility of scientific peer review and publication and to help advance the efficiency, effectiveness, and equitability of the dissemination of biomedical information throughout the world”.
Featured in this collection are fully open-access reporting guidelines for various study designs or intervention types studies, such as guidelines for the reporting of randomized clinical trials (CONSORT), systematic reviews and meta-analyses (PRISMA), epidemiological studies (STROBE), and in vivo animal research (ARRIVE). A more comprehensive library of guidelines can be found on the EQUATOR Network website.
The collection also features commentary on the use of reporting guidelines, including a discussion of why reporting guidelines matter by the PLOS Medicine Editors, and evidence to show that the use of reporting guidelines is associated with improvements in the quality of research reporting.
The collection represents an essential toolbox for authors, at all stages of their careers, to help ensure clarity in the reporting of their findings and therefore maximize the impact of their research. We encourage researchers, funders and editors to use and share this open-access collection.
To view all the articles or read more about this collection, please visit: PLOS Reporting Guidelines Collection.