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OBJECTIVE: We investigated the developing methods of reporting guidelines in the EQUATOR Network's database. METHODS: In October 2018, we screened all records and excluded those not describing reporting guidelines from further investigation. Twelve researchers performed duplicate data extraction on bibliometrics, scope, development methods, presentation, and dissemination of all publications. Descriptive statistics were used to summarise the findings. RESULTS: Of the 405 screened records, 262 described the development of reporting guidelines. The number of reporting guidelines increased over the past three decades, from 5 in the 1990s and 63 in the 2000s to 157 in the 2010s. Development groups included 2 to 151 people. Literature appraisal was performed during the development of 56% of the reporting guidelines; 33% used surveys to gather external opinion on items to report; and 42% piloted or sought external feedback on their recommendations. Examples of good reporting for all reporting items were presented in 30% of the reporting guidelines. Eighteen percent of the reviewed publications included some level of spin. CONCLUSIONS: Reporting guidelines have been developed with varying methodology. Reporting guideline developers should use existing guidance and take an evidence-based approach, rather than base their recommendations on expert opinion of limited groups of individuals.

Original publication




Journal article


J clin epidemiol

Publication Date



meta-research, reporting quality, reporting standards, research on research, research quality, research standards, research waste