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Science Policy

Use of Trial Register Information during the Peer Review Process
Published: Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Author: Sylvain Mathieu et al.

by Sylvain Mathieu, An-Wen Chan, Philippe Ravaud


Evidence in the medical literature suggests that trial registration may not be preventing selective reporting of results. We wondered about the place of such information in the peer-review process.


We asked 1,503 corresponding authors of clinical trials and 1,733 reviewers to complete an online survey soliciting their views on the use of trial registry information during the peer-review process.


1,136 authors (n?=?713) and reviewers (n?=?423) responded (37.5%); 676 (59.5%) had reviewed an article reporting a clinical trial in the past 2 years. Among these, 232 (34.3%) examined information registered on a trial registry. If one or more items (primary outcome, eligibility criteria, etc.) differed between the registry record and the manuscript, 206 (88.8%) mentioned the discrepancy in their review comments, 46 (19.8%) advised editors not to accept the manuscript, and 8 did nothing. The reviewers' reasons for not using the trial registry information included a lack of registration number in the manuscript (n?=?132; 34.2%), lack of time (n?=?128; 33.2%), lack of usefulness of registered information for peer review (n?=?100; 25.9%), lack of awareness about registries (n?=?54; 14%), and excessive complexity of the process (n?=?39; 10.1%).


This survey revealed that only one-third of the peer reviewers surveyed examined registered trial information and reported any discrepancies to journal editors.