Effect of using reporting guidelines during peer review on quality of final manuscripts submitted to a biomedical journal: Masked randomised trial

E. Cobo, J. Cortés, J. M. Ribera, F. Cardellach, A. Selva-O'Callaghan, B. Kostov, L. García, L. Cirugeda, D. G. Altman, J. A. González, J. A. Sànchez, F. Miras, A. Urrutia, V. Fonollosa, C. Rey-Joly, M. Vilardell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

156 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: To investigate the effect of an additional review based on reporting guidelines such as STROBE and CONSORT on quality of manuscripts. Design: Masked randomised trial. Population: Original research manuscripts submitted to the Medicina Clínica journal from May 2008 to April 2009 and considered suitable for publication. Intervention: Control group: conventional peer reviews alone. Intervention group: conventional review plus an additional review looking for missing items from reporting guidelines. Outcomes: Manuscript quality, assessed with a 5 point Likert scale (primary: overall quality; secondary: average quality of specific items in paper). Main analysis compared groups as allocated, after adjustment for baseline factors (analysis of covariance); sensitivity analysis compared groups as reviewed. Adherence to reviewer suggestions assessed with Likert scale. Results: Of 126 consecutive papers receiving conventional review, 34 were not suitable for publication. The remaining 92 papers were allocated to receive conventional reviews alone (n=41) or additional reviews (n=51). Four papers assigned to the conventional review group deviated from protocol; they received an additional review based on reporting guidelines. We saw an improvement in manuscript quality in favour of the additional review group (comparison as allocated, 0.25, 95% confidence interval -0.05 to 0.54; as reviewed, 0.33, 0.03 to 0.63). More papers with additional reviews than with conventional reviews alone improved from baseline (22 (43%) v eight (20%), difference 23.6% (3.2% to 44.0%), number needed to treat 4.2 (from 2.3 to 31.2), relative risk 2.21 (1.10 to 4.44)). Authors in the additional review group adhered more to suggestions from conventional reviews than to those from additional reviews (average increase 0.43 Likert points (0.19 to 0.67)).
Original languageEnglish
Article numberd6783
Pages (from-to)1084
JournalBMJ (Online)
Volume343
Issue number7833
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2011

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