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Transparency in Biomedical Research: Evidence-Based Reporting Guidelines

Twa, Michael D.

Optometry and Vision Science: June 2016 - Volume 93 - Issue 6 - p 559
doi: 10.1097/OPX.0000000000000908
EDITORIAL
Free

Editor-in-Chief Optometry and Vision Science

Evidence-based practice depends upon the availability of reliable evidence and a priority for the journal is to provide a forum for the best available evidence related to optometry. Over the past 10 years, a number of guidelines have been developed to help authors present their work so that others can clearly follow the methods, results, and interpretations provided. The most extensive collection of guidelines are provided by the Equator network (http://www.equator-network.org/).1,2 The Equator network (Enhancing Quality and Transparency of Health Research) was founded in 2008 and was initially funded as a part of the National Health Service in the United Kingdom in 2006. Since then, three national centers were established in the UK, Canada, and France for the purpose of expanding awareness of reporting guidelines and encouraging best-practices for the reporting of research outcomes.

The equator network’s website contains a library of 316 different guidelines and protocols for reporting research results from almost every conceivable study design. This compendium of resources gets pretty specific and one example is #311: Recommendations for reporting economic evaluations of haemophilia prophylaxis. That gives a flavor of how specific the guidelines have become, which I think begs several questions—where does this end, what is the value of this approach, moreover, what is the value of adopting these recommendations as a part of OVS publication standards. In fact, the most used reporting guidelines relate to the main study types also published by Optometry and Vision Science: case reports, diagnostic/prognostic studies, quality improvement studies, observational studies, randomized trials, systematic reviews, and qualitative research.

Each of the reporting guidelines have a common thread, encouraging transparency so that published research can be understood and thereby rendered more useful to others. Authors can increase the likelihood of successful publication in Optometry and Vision Science if they follow the reporting guidelines provided through the equator network. What journal editors, authors, methodologists, and others have learned over the years is that reporting guidelines encourage better reporting of research results and this ultimately increases the size and quality of the pool of available evidence. Second, familiarity and use of reporting guidelines has a positive impact on the quality of the research reported by influencing studies at the design stage.

Optometry and Vision Science has a history of publishing exotic and obscure conditions as case reports. The value of these case reports to readers of the journal is questionable. For this reason, in January, I began discussions with the Clinical Associate Editor, Dr. Larry Alexander, and Editorial Board Member, Dr. Andrew Mick, about the future of the journal’s clinical content. Several of the journals in our field, e.g. American Journal of Ophthalmology, recently created separate journals as a venue for clinical case reports. Others, have discontinued case reports altogether. To be clear, quality clinical content is valuable to Optometry and Vision Science and the goal is to push for standards that will encourage higher quality and greater relevance for the readers of our journal. To accomplish these goals, the journal will be moving toward new standards for case reports that will be in line with the CARE guidelines recommended by the equator network (http://www.equator-network.org/reporting-guidelines/care).3,4 This will include timeline figures and a more thorough review of existing evidence-based recommendations for diagnostic considerations, treatment options, and prognosis. My vision for the journal includes clinical content with broader appeal and greater impact.

Michael D. Twa

Editor-in-Chief

Optometry and Vision Science

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REFERENCES

1. Simera I. EQUATOR Network collates resources for good research. BMJ 2008; 337: a2471.
2. Moher D, Simera I, Schulz KF, Hoey J, Altman DG. Helping editors, peer reviewers and authors improve the clarity, completeness and transparency of reporting health research. BMC Med 2008; 6: 13.
3. Gagnier JJ, Morgenstern H, Altman DG, Berlin J, Chang S, McCulloch P, Sun X, Moher D. Ann Arbor Clinical Heterogeneity Consensus G. Consensus-based recommendations for investigating clinical heterogeneity in systematic reviews. BMC Med Res Methodol 2013; 13: 106.
4. Gagnier JJ, Kienle G, Altman DG, Moher D, Sox H, Riley D, Group C. The CARE guidelines: consensus-based clinical case reporting guideline development. BMJ Case Rep 2013; 2013.
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