Editor's Message: On Being Transparent...

Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy: January/March 2011 - Volume 34 - Issue 1 - p 1–2
doi: 10.1519/JPT.0b013e318211bac4

The last decade has witnessed an exponential increase in the number of professional journals publishing studies relevant to the care of older adults by physical therapists. As a result, the number and variety of studies available as “evidence” to support physical therapy practice has also multiplied, making it a challenge to keep up with the literature, as well as to judge the quality of the information provided. Because the Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy is committed to providing the best evidence available to our readers, the Editors and the Editorial Board have chosen to endorse the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals published by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). These guidelines aimed at insuring “transparency” in the design and reporting of research.

Following the lead of the Physical Therapy Journal, the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Aging, and the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy, and beginning on July 1, 2011 we will be requiring authors to submit the appropriate flow diagram and checklist using the one of the following standards (as appropriate for the type of study) developed by ICMJE working groups for the reporting of research results:

* Observational or prognostic studies using cross sectional, cohort or case control designs: The Strobe Statement: Strengthening the Reporting of Observational studies in Epidemiology. http://www.strobe-statement.org/index.php?id=available-checklists

* Diagnostic studies: the STARD Statement: Standards for the Reporting of Diagnostic accuracy studies (http://www.stard-statement.org)

* Randomized clinical trials comparing outcomes of intervention: the Consort 2010 Statement: Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials, non-pharmacological treatment interventions. (http://www.consort-statement.org/extensions/interventions/non-pharmacologic-treatment-interventions/).

* Systematic reviews and meta-analysis: The PRISMA Statement: Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (http://www.prisma-statement.org)

* Qualitative studies: The Qualres Guidelines: Qualitative Research Guidelines Project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation http://www.qualres.org/HomeGuid-3935.html

* Case Reports and Case Series: At this time, there is no international consensus on guidelines for case reports or case series. We encourage authors of case reports or case series (whether a traditional “full” report, or specifically focused on diagnosis, prognosis, clinical measurement, application of theory to practice, risk management, or administrative or educational processes) to use the guidelines developed by Physical Therapy, available at http://ptjournal.apta.org/site/misc/ifora_case_reports.xhtml

Links to the statements and pdf versions of each statement's checklist will be available at http://jgeript.org under information for authors.

This change in requirement will be beneficial to authors, reviewers, and readers of the Journal. Authors who use the checklist in preparing their work and include the flow chart in their manuscript on submission can be more confident that their work will qualify for the review process. Reviewers will be able to use the checklist and flow chart as they assess the quality of the science, and the appropriateness of the interpretation of findings of the studies they are evaluating. A greater consistency in the flow and organization of articles within the journal will make it easier for readers to find key information within individual studies. Having our guidelines consistent with other major journals providing literature on geriatrics will make it easier to compare information and findings across journals. A win-win situation for all!

When will this change become “visible” to those who submit their work to the journal for review? We recommend that all authors immediately incorporate the appropriate checklist and flow sheets into their submission. This will become a requirement of submission as of July 1, 2011. Be advised that the Editor will send manuscripts back to authors who do not submit these required components on submission after July 1.

Reviewers have received the new guidelines and will begin incorporating them into their reviews as of July 1, 2011.

Readers will begin to see flow charts in articles submitted after July 1st as they are published electronically ahead of print in the fall of 2011, as well as when the “hard copy” of the JGPT is mailed in 2012. Readers will be able to be more confident of the quality of the work and the rigor of review in the articles that they are reading.

The decision to adopt these internationally agreed-upon guidelines for the design and reporting of clinical research is an important step in the development of the Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy. The Editors' and Editorial Board Members hope that you will join us in embracing this change!

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© 2011 Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy, APTA