The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recently published an update to their Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals. The recommendations are followed by ICMJE member journals and are also used as ‘best practice’ guidelines by many non-member publications. The latest update contains several additions, including more detailed guidance on predatory publishers and a new section on data sharing.
The expansion of the guidance on predatory journals perhaps reflects the growing importance of this problem in medical publishing. The recommendations now give a more comprehensive description of the potential issues associated with predatory journals, such as a lack of peer review, and also now cover ‘pseudo-journals’. Authors are reminded of their responsibility to publish in genuine journals, and a link to further information on identifying predatory or pseudo-journals is provided.
The most notable update to the recommendations is the inclusion of a new section on data sharing. As previously described on The Publication Plan, the ICMJE launched new data sharing requirements in June 2017, and articles submitted to an ICMJE journal after 1st July 2018 must contain a data sharing statement. This statement should include details about what data/additional documents will be made available, when, and to whom. In addition, for clinical trials that begin enrolment after 1st January 2019, a data sharing plan is required as part of the trial registration. The recommendations also provide advice about the use of shared data in secondary analyses; such as the importance of listing the data source’s unique, persistent identifier, and of crediting the researchers who generated the original data set.