Now Published: A Survey About the Endorsement of the CONSORT Statement

There is evidence that the endorsement of the CONSORT Statement by journals has a positive impact on the quality of reports of randomized trials [1]. A newly published survey of journal editors and journal 'Instructions to Authors'[2] captures a current account of how CONSORT is endorsed in high impact medical journals.

As a follow-up to a study conducted by Altman in 2003 [3], who also studied 'Instructions to Authors' of high impact journals, Hopewell et al. examined an updated sample in 2007. One hundred and sixty-five journals were included, of which 62 (38%) mentioned the CONSORT Statement in their journals' online 'Instructions to Authors.' In the 2003 survey [3], 36 (22%) of the 166 journals did the same. This is a relative improvement of 73%. One hundred and twenty- one journals were used in the 2003 and 2007 studies; 26% endorsed CONSORT in 2003 increasing to 39% in 2008, a relative improvement of 50%. 

Thirty-seven percent (23/62) of the journals that mentioned CONSORT in the 2007 survey stated that this was a requirement for submission, whereas 63% (39/62) were less clear in their recommendations.

Hopewell et al. also studied the extent to which journals that publish reports of randomized trials incorporate the CONSORT recommendations into their editorial and peer-review processes. Just under half of the respondents (22/53; 41%) said that the CONSORT statement was part of their peer-review process. A similar proportion (25/53; 47%) said that they incorporated the CONSORT statement in their editorial process. Methods of incorporation included, for example, requiring authors to include a CONSORT flow diagram and completed checklist with their manuscript submission, or including the CONSORT checklist for download on the peer review website alongside the submitted manuscript.

The endorsement of CONSORT extensions was also studied, as was the relationship between the mention of CONSORT and the reference to other reporting guidelines and clinical trial registration.

The authors argue that only through the wide endorsement of the CONSORT statement and its extensions by journals who require authors to comply with the guidelines as a condition of publication, and who reinforce this through their editorial and peer-review processes, can the quality of reports of randomized trials continue to be improved.

The publication was also featured on Biomed Central Blog and the full text pdf is available here.

References

1. Plint AC, Moher D, Morrison A, Schulz K, Altman DG, Hill C, Gaboury I. Does the CONSORT checklist improve the quality of reports of randomised controlled trials? A systematic review. Med J Aust 2006, 185(5): 263-267.

2.  Hopewell S, Altman DG, Moher D, Schulz KF. Endorsement of the CONSORT Statement by high impact factor medical journals: a survey of journal editors and journal 'Instructions to Authors'. Trials 2008, 9:20.

3. Altman DG. Endorsement of the CONSORT statement by high impact medical journals: survey of instructions for authors. BMJ 2005, 330(7499):1056-1057.

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