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Endorsement of the CONSORT Statement by High-Impact Medical Journals in China: A Survey of Instructions for Authors and Published Papers
Published: Monday, February 13, 2012
Author: Xiao-qian Li et al.

by Xiao-qian Li, Kun-ming Tao, Qing-hui Zhou, David Moher, Hong-yun Chen, Fu-zhe Wang, Chang-quan Ling

Background

The CONSORT Statement is a reporting guideline for authors when reporting randomized controlled trials (RCTs). It offers a standard way for authors to prepare RCT reports. It has been endorsed by many high-impact medical journals and by international editorial groups. This study was conducted to assess the endorsement of the CONSORT Statement by high-impact medical journals in China by reviewing their instructions for authors.

Methodology/Principal Findings

A total of 200 medical journals were selected according to the Chinese Science and Technology Journal Citation Reports, 195 of which publish clinical research papers. Their instructions for authors were reviewed and all texts mentioning the CONSORT Statement or CONSORT extension papers were extracted. Any mention of the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals (URM) developed by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) or ‘clinical trial registration’ was also extracted. For journals endorsing the CONSORT Statement, their most recently published RCT reports were retrieved and evaluated to assess whether the journals have followed what the CONSORT Statement required. Out of the 195 medical journals publishing clinical research papers, only six (6/195, 3.08%) mentioned ‘CONSORT’ in their instructions for authors; out of the 200 medical journals surveyed, only 14 (14/200, 7.00%) mentioned ‘ICMJE’ or ‘URM’ in their instructions for authors, and another five journals stated in their instructions for authors that clinical trials should have trial registration numbers and that priority would be given to clinical trials which had been registered. Among the 62 RCT reports published in the six journals endorsing the CONSORT Statement, 20 (20/62, 32.26%) contained flow diagrams and only three (3/62, 4.84%) provided trial registration information.

Conclusions/Significance

Medical journals in China endorsing either the CONSORT Statement or the ICMJE's URM constituted a small percentage of the total; all of these journals used ambiguous language regarding what was expected of authors.

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