Enhancing the QUAlity and Transparency Of health Research
The Library for health research reporting contains an up-to-date collection of guidelines and policy documents related to health research reporting. These are aimed primarily at authors of research articles, journal editors, peer reviewers and reporting guideline developers.
For practical information to help you to use the guidance listed in the Library to promote, teach and practice accurate, complete and ethical publication of health research please visit our Toolkits section. Practical resources for groups developing reporting guidelines are also provided there.
The Library landing page provides easy access to information on the availability of reporting guideline translations, scientific writing, guidance developed by editorial groups, research funders’ guidance on reporting requirements, reporting guidelines that are currently under development, industry sponsored research guidance and research ethics, publication ethics and good practice guidelines.
We aim to select useful resources to link to from our Library pages, not to create exhaustive (and exhausting) pages. The only exception to this philosophy is our database of reporting guidelines, which aims to be truly comprehensive.
Database of reporting guidelines
Our database of reporting guidelines provides a searchable database of all reporting guidelines (published since 1996) identified through systematic literature searches that focus on/provide specific guidance for reporting various types of research designs, components of research reports or specific medical conditions or procedures.
We aim to be very inclusive and include all published reporting guidelines, both generic (methodology-based) and specific (e.g. defining terminology or data) that relate to human health. We do not, however, include histopathology reporting guidance and also exclude guidance included within the text of journals’ instructions to authors, instruments designed for the evaluation of study quality, risk of bias and critical appraisal checklists. In terms of the process for developing reporting guidelines we do not exclude guidelines on the strength of their methodology or development process.
For information and help regarding how to use and search the reporting guidelines database please visit our Help page.
Literature searching to identify reporting guidelines
Unfortunately, there is still no standardised terminology or database indexing practice for ‘reporting guideline(s)’ making the electronic identification of relevant published guidelines difficult. Common terminology currently in use includes: reporting guideline(s); reporting standard(s); reporting guidance; reporting requirement(s); reporting criteria; reporting recommendation(s); reporting checklist(s); reporting statement and reporting instruction(s) in addition to many other variants. We have recently therefore, developed four highly sensitive search strategies to identify reporting guidelines in Pubmed, Embase, Cinahl and Web of Science. Each search strategy has been rigorously developed using an iterative process involving the identification of relevant controlled vocabulary terms, free-text terms, and publication type terms and an examination of bibliographic records for key reporting guidelines to identify how index terms are assigned in practice and to what extent the indexing in each database is consistent. The catalogue of the library for health research reporting was used as the gold standard set for measuring the retrieval rate of each search strategy.
In developing these search strategies we discovered that the terminology used by authors to refer to/describe ‘reporting guidelines’ varies enormously and also that database indexing practices are not consistent. Consequently, until standardised terminology and/or new indexing headings or consistent indexing practices are adopted our search strategies are and will be deliberately sensitive to ensure that new reporting guidelines are not missed.
The search strategies are run regularly to identify new reporting guidelines for inclusion in the database. The results of each update literature search are sifted for relevancy by the EQUATOR Network Team, and when required by Steering Group members, and a decision is made regarding which guidelines to include in the library.
All four search strategies are available to download from: reporting guideline search strategies (PDF)