Confused as to which guidelines you should be following to write up your research? Well help may be at hand. There are over 280 guidelines available on the EQUATOR Network and finding the most applicable one can be challenging. PENELOPE and EQUATOR have joined forces to develop a tool called Equator Wizard that can help authors select the most appropriate guidelines and checklists to expedite the submission process. Equator Wizard will ask you a series of questions about your study and will end with a suggestion for the most suitable reporting guidelines along with a link to the relevant checklist.
Diana Marshall and Daniel Shanahan from BioMed Central have tested the sensitivity and specificity of the tool and found it to be highly accurate, albeit on a limited number of articles. They now plan to measure whether authors will use the tool! Four journals within the BMC series (BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, BMC Gastroenterology, BMC Nephrology and BMC Family Practice) will change their submission protocols and require authors to submit a completed guideline checklist along with their manuscript. This will be monitored for a month and adherence to the new policy recorded. During the following month a link to Equator Wizard will be provided to see if access to the tool results in more authors adopting reporting guidelines, selecting the correct guidelines for their study, and following the new submission process.
The use of guidelines aids transparency and has improved trial reporting so anything that encourages their use should be welcomed and the results of this pilot experiment with Equator Wizard will be of interest to all publishing professionals.