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The EQUATOR Network is an international initiative set up to help researchers and journals to publish well-reported, reliable, and usable research papers. The UK EQUATOR Centre, based in NDORMS, is the head office and flagship centre of the EQUATOR Network.

Composite image of four panes. Top left is the EQUATOR Network logo. Top right is the EQUATOR tagline: enhancing the quality and transparency of health research. Bottom left is a photograph of a set of folders for the UK EQUATOR Centre’s Publication School stacked neatly in 3 rows on a table. Bottom right is a selection of reporting guideline logos, such as STROBE for observational research, SPIRIT for clinical trial protocols, CONSORT for clinical trials, and CARE for case reports.

The EQUATOR Network provides resources that improve the reliability and usability of research publications by supporting the responsible reporting of health research. 

Good research reporting is accurate, complete, transparent, and timely

The EQUATOR Network builds on and advances the work of guidelines groups such as CONSORT. It focuses on increasing the use of reporting guidelines and promoting good reporting. The UK EQUATOR Centre furthers the EQUATOR vision in the UK:

  • We have developed and maintain the central EQUATOR Network repository of all available guidelines and guidance on how to use them
  • We organise education and training events for researchers, research students, editors, and peer reviewers, such as our Publication School and Lightning workshops
  • We collaborate with like-minded organisations to raise reporting standards in the UK and beyond, such as the UK Health Research Authority and the Pan American Health Organisation
  • We work closely with the Centre for Statistics in Medicine to research, evaluate, and develop measures to increase the use of reporting guidelines

What are reporting guidelines?

Reporting guidelines provide the minimum set of information needed for a particular kind of study to be understood, replicated, critiqued, and used. Guidelines focus on scientific content, so complement journals’ instructions to authors, which mostly deal with the technicalities of submitted manuscripts.

Some guidelines provide a generic framework for a particular kind of study. For example, the CONSORT guideline describes how to report a randomised clinical trial. Other guidelines are for specific clinical areas or aspects of research, such as the BRISQ guideline for reporting the use of biospecimens.

Reporting guidelines are developed by multidisciplinary working groups that usually include methodologists, journal editors, and researchers from the medical speciality or research area that the guideline will cover.

The box at the bottom of the page provides links to the most commonly used guidelines.

Why do we need reporting guidelines?

Reporting guidelines help you make an impact with your research.

No-one wants their research to just be published and forgotten, or to find itself on a systematic reviewer's ‘exclusion pile’. If a publication is missing key information, then it cannot be understood by its readers, cannot be reproduced, and cannot be included in the systematic reviews that inform clinical decision-making. Reporting guidelines help researchers to include every necessary detail in their publications.

Reporting guidelines help work towards the broader goal of combating waste in biomedical research. It is estimated that about 85% of all biomedical research today is wasted, for example through:

  • Publication bias: Studies are either not published or are published long after they were completed, with positive findings being published much more often than negative findings
  • Incomplete or selective reporting: Crucial components are left out of study reports
  • Inaccurate reporting: Statistical errors and mismatches between different areas of the text and between the text and reality

Read more about the problem of research waste in biomedical research in this Lancet series.

Resources and training

Visit the EQUATOR website to see our extensive online resources, including our database of reporting guidelines and guidance on scientific writing and the ethical conduct and publication of research. You can also sign up for our mailing list to hear about our courses. 

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