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GRReaT expectations: are editable templates the future of manuscript writing?


KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Authors may soon be able to use the GoodReports.org website to generate a manuscript template incorporating the recommended reportable items from the most appropriate set of EQUATOR reporting guidelines.
  • The GRReaT trial will evaluate whether the templates improve research reporting compared to the use of reporting checklists alone.

The GoodReports.org website, which helps researchers choose the most appropriate reporting guidelines for their study, may soon be able to provide authors with an editable article template to help implement good reporting practices earlier on in the manuscript writing process. The GoodReports Randomized Trial (GRReaT) is looking for authors to help test if the article templates result in more completely reported articles than simply signposting authors to a checklist of reportable items.

It is estimated that only 20% of medical research contributes to the advancement of knowledge, with poor reporting a recognised factor in this alarming statistic.

A recent BMC Series blog by EQUATOR (Enhancing the Quality and Transparency of Health Research) Network team member Caroline Struthers described how a series of Lancet articles on the topic of research waste inspired the initial development of the EQUATOR-headed GoodReports.org website. Since its launch in 2018, user feedback showed that authors thought they would receive greater benefit from the tool if guidance was given earlier in the writing process and in a more implementable, non-checklist format, prompting the evaluation of editable manuscript templates.

The Medical Research Council-funded GRReaT trial is looking for medical researchers working on the following types of health-related studies to contribute:

  • cohort studies
  • case-control studies
  • cross-sectional studies
  • observational studies in nutrition or dietetics
  • systematic reviews (of healthcare interventions)
  • randomised trials of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, procedures, or social or psychological interventions.

The results of the GRReaT trial will provide an important insight into how comprehensive reporting in medical research can be better supported. In exchange for their contributions, trial participants will receive a manuscript ‘completeness’ report from experts at the UK EQUATOR centre with tips on how to improve their manuscript prior to peer review.

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What do you think – will the GoodReports article templates help improve reporting in medical research?

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2 thoughts on “GRReaT expectations: are editable templates the future of manuscript writing? Leave a comment

  1. Hi Olivia! Thanks so much for this great article about our trial. GRReaT Expectations is a fantastic headline – wish I had thought of it! It would be good to slightly edit the sentence at the beginning about the GoodReports.org website. It does currently help researchers choose the most appropriate reporting guidelines for their study, but we haven’t (yet) updated it to provide the editable templates. It provides an editable checklist, but not a template. The trial is testing the template idea against a control, so if the trial shows templates improve reporting, we will update the website to provide the templates. Thanks again

  2. Hi Caroline! Thanks very much for your comment. We’re happy to update the article to reflect the ongoing testing of manuscript templates. We, along with many other readers of the Publication Plan no doubt, are going to be very interested in the results of the GRReaT trial. Thanks! (Dan at The Publication Plan)

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