One of the highest priority agenda items was the revision of the CONSORT checklist. Since the larger CONSORT Group meeting in Montebello, Canada, in January 2007, the executive have been working on revising the CONSORT checklist, taking into account the suggestions of the Group. After many versions, a draft was circulated to the wider Group in August 2007. At the September meeting, the executive took a whole day to examine the feedback and to work on a near final version of the revised CONSORT checklist.
Over the coming months the Explanation and Elaboration (E&E) document, which was published for the first time with the 2001 CONSORT Statement, will undergo its first revision in light of the revised checklist. Since both documents are meant to be read together, the executive decided that the publication of the revised CONSORT Statement would wait until the revised Explanation and Elaboration (E&E) document is also ready for publication. This will take several months, as there is substantial work in revising the E&E document.
Closer to publication, however, is the CONSORT for Abstracts extension. Final issues were worked out for this paper at the meeting, and it is anticipated that the paper will be published by the end of 2007.
CONSORT extensions in general were also discussed, specifically the difference between an 'official' and an 'unofficial' extension. The CONSORT Group have helped to develop several published extensions to CONSORT Statement, but several other papers have been published as CONSORT extensions without any input from the CONSORT Group. These papers have been categorized in the CONSORT database as 'unofficial' extensions of the CONSORT Statement. A policy is being developed to define what is an 'official' CONSORT extension.
The use of the CONSORT website has been steadily increasing during the past year. In December 2006, the number of monthly page views was 38,459. After the launch of the redesigned CONSORT website in August 2007, the number of page views increased to 49,575 in the first month. Encouraged, the CONSORT executive discussed the development of additional features for the website, and plan to develop a Frequently Asked Questions section and a discussion forum. Also, a policy that better defines the endorsement by medical journals of the CONSORT Statement is in development, as reviews of journals' guidance for authors have shown that there are varying degrees to which journals endorse CONSORT.
The CONSORT Group have a lot of great ideas for research projects to gain a better picture of the nature of trial reporting and CONSORT's role. As funds are inadequate to support all the projects, the executive developed priority topics for the next year.
Over the last year much time and resources have been frustratingly given over to trying to secure funding, which has consistency proved elusive. Despite much-valued support from a grant from the National Coordinating Centre for Research Methodology, UK, it is clear that it is necessary to find additional resources to help to move forward the CONSORT research agenda and other initiatives. So, as always, the issue of funding was a big talking point at the meeting in September. The executive identified some new possibilities to explore and are taking those ideas forward.
From working through the details of terminology in the checklist to discussing broader issues of funding, much was accomplished in the recent executive meeting. In addition to monthly executive conference calls, it is clear that executive meetings are a fruitful use of resources and are much needed to move forward effectively and efficiently with CONSORT initiatives. The executive hope to have meetings twice a year if possible to maintain the momentum of these initiatives, but funding is clearly an issue. As things stand, there are no funds to support another meeting until further funding is obtained.