Planning and conducting your research
It is important to be aware of reporting requirements and think about reporting when you are planning and conducting your research study:
- UK NIHR Clinical Trials Toolkit provides practical advice to researchers in designing and conducting publicly funded clinical trials in the UK. Through the use of an interactive routemap, this site provides information on best practice and outlines the current legal and practical requirements for conducting clinical trials.
- UK MRC Experimental Medicine Tool Kit provides guidance through the legal and good practice requirements when designing conducting and disseminating experimental medicine studies.
- UK MRC Data and Tissues Tool Kit provides practical help with the legislative and good practice requirements relating to the use of personal information and human tissue samples in healthcare research in the UK, e.g. Data Protection Act (1998), Human Tissue Acts. Much of the information, which is held in route maps, focuses on the planning and approvals stage of setting up a research project.
- The SPIRIT 2013 Statement provides guidance on the minimum content that should be included in a clinical trial protocol and consists of a 33-item checklist.
Chan A-W, Tetzlaff JM, Altman DG, Laupacis A, Gøtzsche PC, Krleža-Jerić K, Hróbjartsson A, Mann H, Dickersin K, Berlin J, Doré C, Parulekar W, Summerskill W, Groves T, Schulz K, Sox H, Rockhold FW, Rennie D, Moher D. SPIRIT 2013 Statement: Defining standard protocol items for clinical trials. Ann Intern Med 2013;158(3):200-7.
Writing up your research
A good scientific article combines clear writing style with a high standard of reporting of the research content:
- Guidance on scientific writing
- Reporting guidelines (comprehensive lists of the available guidelines appropriate to each study type)
- Examples of good research reporting (specific examples showing why and how to correctly describe important aspects of your trial or other types of research studies)
When published, your article will start a new independent life - it will be read and critically appraised, and it may contribute to systematic reviews, inform clinical guidelines, and influence clinical practice, etc. So, before you submit your paper to a journal, try to consider whether the article is 'fit for purpose' and able to pass this future scrutiny, e.g. will a Cochrane reviewer be able to identify your study’s methods to assess risk of bias (Cochrane handbook, Table 8.5.a); can numerical results be extracted from your paper without any ambiguity; have you provided enough details about your intervention to allow its use in clinical practice; etc.
Industry sponsored additional resources - medical writers
Medical writers should be aware of any guidelines that apply to the publications they are producing, including the reporting guidelines on the EQUATOR website. In addition to these, a number of guidelines relating to reporting have been developed specifically for medical writers.
Ethical guidelines and considerations
Complete, accurate and transparent reporting is an integral part of responsible research conduct. Many organisations stipulate this in their guidelines:
Other resourcesInstructions to Authors (Mulford Library, University of Toledo )
Common Omissions and Errors in Published Research. Dept of Health and Aging, Autralian Government, 2004 (adapted from Polgar and Thomas, 1991)
Guidelines for scientists on communicating with the media