GoodReports: developing a website to help health researchers find and use reporting guidelines

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Abstract

Background: Th EQUATOR Network improves the quality and transparency in health research, primarily by promoting awareness and use of reporting guidelines. In 2018, the UK EQUATOR Centre launched GoodReports.org, a website that helps authors find and use reporting guidelines. This paper describes the tool’s development so far. We describe user experience and behaviour of using GoodReports.org both inside and outside a journal manuscript submission process. We intend to use our findings to inform future development and testing of the tool. Methods: We conducted a survey to collect data on user experience of the GoodReports website. We cross-checked a random sample of 100 manuscripts submitted to a partner journal to describe the level of agreement between the tool’s checklist recommendation and what we would have recommended. We compared the proportion of authors submitting a completed reporting checklist alongside their manuscripts between groups exposed or not exposed to the GoodReports tool. We also conducted a study comparing completeness of reporting of manuscript text before an author received a reporting guideline recommendation from GoodReports.org with the completeness of the text subsequently submitted to a partner journal. Results: Seventy percent (423/599) of survey respondents rated GoodReports 8 or more out of 10 for usefulness, and 74% (198/267) said they had made changes to their manuscript after using the website. We agreed with the GoodReports reporting guideline recommendation in 84% (72/86) of cases. Of authors who completed the guideline finder questionnaire, 14% (10/69) failed to submit a completed checklist compared to 30% (41/136) who did not use the tool. Of the 69 authors who received a GoodReports reporting guideline recommendation, 20 manuscript pairs could be reviewed before and after use of GoodReports. Five included more information in their methods section after exposure to GoodReports. On average, authors reported 57% of necessary reporting items before completing a checklist on GoodReports.org and 60% after. Conclusion: The data suggest that reporting guidance is needed early in the writing process, not at submission stage. We are developing GoodReports by adding more reporting guidelines and by creating editable article templates. We will test whether GoodReports users write more complete study reports in a randomised trial targeting researchers starting to write health research articles.

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APA

Struthers, C., Harwood, J., de Beyer, J. A., Dhiman, P., Logullo, P., & Schlüssel, M. (2021). GoodReports: developing a website to help health researchers find and use reporting guidelines. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 21(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12874-021-01402-x

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