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Better Reporting, Better Research: Guidelines and Guidance in PLoS Medicine

PLoS Medicine
Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0050099
  • Editorial
  • Public Health And Epidemiology
  • Research Methods
  • Medical Journals
  • Research Design
  • Public Health
  • Epidemiology
  • Biology
  • Medicine


10.1371_journal.pmed.0050099-O.pdf PLoS Medicine | 0519 April 2008 | Volume 5 | Issue 4 | e99 Editorial P LoS Medicine aims to publish important studies from all medical disciplines that provide a substantial advance either in clinical practice, public heath policy, or basic pathophysiology. Though this is a lofty aim it is possible to see the journal’s role as primarily a passive one; presubmission inquiries and research articles arrive unsolicited, by which time evaluation by editors and reviewers for rigor, originality, and importance can do little to improve deficiencies in study methodology (largely a fait accompli by that point). However, we would argue that medical journals such as PLoS Medicine should seek to go beyond merely reflecting current trends in medical practice and research, by actively working to establish and promote standards that aim to improve the quality of research that is done. We have already published articles that address common problems or recommend best practices in conducting research. These articles include a Policy Forum that outlines guidance on gaining true informed consent for genetic studies in developing countries [1]; a proposal for how best to enroll adolescents in sensitive health research studies [2]; and an article discussing the issues involved in data cleaning [3]. To date we have also published three papers establishing reporting standards for medical research: two detailing the STROBE (Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology) guidelines for reporting epidemiological studies [4,5], and one describing the CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) guidelines for reporting results of a randomized trial in abstract form [6]. Is there any evidence that such guidance does any good? It’s probably too early to tell whether the STROBE or CONSORT for abstracts guidelines have had an impact, but a before- and-after assessment of jo

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