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BACKGROUND: In biomedical research, it is often desirable to seek consensus among individuals who have differing perspectives and experience. This is important when evidence is emerging, inconsistent, limited, or absent. Even when research evidence is abundant, clinical recommendations, policy decisions, and priority-setting may still require agreement from multiple, sometimes ideologically opposed parties. Despite their prominence and influence on key decisions, consensus methods are often poorly reported. Our aim was to develop the first reporting guideline dedicated to and applicable to all consensus methods used in biomedical research regardless of the objective of the consensus process, called ACCORD (ACcurate COnsensus Reporting Document). METHODS AND FINDINGS: We followed methodology recommended by the EQUATOR Network for the development of reporting guidelines: a systematic review was followed by a Delphi process and meetings to finalize the ACCORD checklist. The preliminary checklist was drawn from the systematic review of existing literature on the quality of reporting of consensus methods and suggestions from the Steering Committee. A Delphi panel (n = 72) was recruited with representation from 6 continents and a broad range of experience, including clinical, research, policy, and patient perspectives. The 3 rounds of the Delphi process were completed by 58, 54, and 51 panelists. The preliminary checklist of 56 items was refined to a final checklist of 35 items relating to the article title (n = 1), introduction (n = 3), methods (n = 21), results (n = 5), discussion (n = 2), and other information (n = 3). CONCLUSIONS: The ACCORD checklist is the first reporting guideline applicable to all consensus-based studies. It will support authors in writing accurate, detailed manuscripts, thereby improving the completeness and transparency of reporting and providing readers with clarity regarding the methods used to reach agreement. Furthermore, the checklist will make the rigor of the consensus methods used to guide the recommendations clear for readers. Reporting consensus studies with greater clarity and transparency may enhance trust in the recommendations made by consensus panels.

Original publication




Journal article


Plos med

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