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Narrative Review of Statistical Reporting Checklists, Mandatory Statistical Editing, and Rectifying Common Problems in the Reporting of Scientific Articles

Dexter, Franklin MD, PhD; Shafer, Steven L. MD

doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000001593
General Articles: Narrative Review Article

Considerable attention has been drawn to poor reproducibility in the biomedical literature. One explanation is inadequate reporting of statistical methods by authors and inadequate assessment of statistical reporting and methods during peer review. In this narrative review, we examine scientific studies of several well-publicized efforts to improve statistical reporting. We also review several retrospective assessments of the impact of these efforts. These studies show that instructions to authors and statistical checklists are not sufficient; no findings suggested that either improves the quality of statistical methods and reporting. Second, even basic statistics, such as power analyses, are frequently missing or incorrectly performed. Third, statistical review is needed for all papers that involve data analysis. A consistent finding in the studies was that nonstatistical reviewers (eg, “scientific reviewers”) and journal editors generally poorly assess statistical quality. We finish by discussing our experience with statistical review at Anesthesia & Analgesia from 2006 to 2016.

Published ahead of print September 26, 2016.

From the *Division of Management Consulting, Department of Anesthesia, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa; and Department of Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California.

Published ahead of print September 26, 2016.

Accepted for publication July 20, 2016.

Funding: Departmental.

Conflict of Interest: See Disclosures at the end of the article.

Reprints will not be available from the authors.

Address correspondence to Franklin Dexter, MD, PhD, Division of Management Consulting, Department of Anesthesia, University of Iowa, 200 Hawkins Dr, 6JCP, Iowa City, IA 52242. Address e-mail to or

© 2017 International Anesthesia Research Society