Impact of a short version of the CONSORT checklist for peer reviewers to improve the reporting of randomised controlled trials published in biomedical journals: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial.
Speich B., Schroter S., Briel M., Moher D., Puebla I., Clark A., Maia Schlüssel M., Ravaud P., Boutron I., Hopewell S.
INTRODUCTION: Transparent and accurate reporting is essential for readers to adequately interpret the results of a study. Journals can play a vital role in improving the reporting of published randomised controlled trials (RCTs). We describe an RCT to evaluate our hypothesis that asking peer reviewers to check whether the most important and poorly reported CONsolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) items are adequately reported will result in higher adherence to CONSORT guidelines in published RCTs. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: Manuscripts presenting the primary results of RCTs submitted to participating journals will be randomised to either the intervention group (peer reviewers will receive a reminder and short explanation of the 10 most important and poorly reported CONSORT items; they will be asked to check if these items are reported in the submitted manuscript) or a control group (usual journal practice). The primary outcome will be the mean proportion of the 10 items that are adequately reported in the published articles. Peer reviewers and manuscript authors will not be informed of the study hypothesis, design or intervention. Outcomes will be assessed in duplicate from published articles by two data extractors (at least one blinded to the intervention). We will enrol eligible manuscripts until a minimum of 83 articles per group (166 in total) are published. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: This pragmatic RCT was approved by the Medical Sciences Interdivisional Research Ethics Committee of the University of Oxford (R62779/RE001). If this intervention is effective, it could be implemented by all medical journals without requiring large additional resources at journal level. Findings will be disseminated through presentations in relevant conferences and peer-reviewed publications. This trial is registered on the Open Science Framework (https://osf.io/c4hn8).