Three CHEERS for the TREND to CONSORT with ORION at the EQUATOR: Or, Reporting Guidelines for Research

by Erica Mitchell | April 5 2019 | 0 Comments

CHEERS ORION-01For almost every type of research design, there is an expert-created set of reporting guidelines that attempts to standardize how data is shared. Each sporting their own impressive acronym, these reporting guidelines exist to help improve the quality of research by establishing a checklist of reminders for researchers about what is essential to each research design. So get out your spoon as we dive into this alphabet soup and learn the basics of each reporting guideline statement.

One of the tenets of modern science is the importance of transparency in reporting. It is particularly important in research that has to do with human health, as the quality of research and results can have a direct impact on human life. In a nutshell, transparency refers to the open access of the audience to the author's data, reasoning, challenges, methods, and results. This openness allows the reader to understand each step of the research, as well as generalize those findings to other scenarios, and even replicate those findings on their own.

To ensure transparency, expert researchers have worked together to make guidelines for each type of research design. Many academic journals have adopted these guidelines as an important part of their manuscript submission requirements, with some even requiring submission of the completed checklists. Here they are, with a quick description and link to the guidelines:

CONSORT: Consolidated Standards of Reporting (randomized control) Trials

TREND: Transparent Reporting of Evaluations with Nonrandomized Designs

STROBE and STROME-ID: STrengthening the Reporting of OBservational studies in Epidemiology/Molecular Epidemiology in Infectious Diseases (includes cohort, case control, and cross-section studies)

PRISMA: Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses

STARD: Standards for Reporting of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies

CHEERS: Consolidated Health Economic Evaluation Reporting Standards

ORION: Outbreak Reports and Intervention studies Of Nosocomial infection

And one community to unite them all:

EQUATOR: Enhancing the QUAlity and Transparency Of health Research

The guidelines, while helpful and representing the ideals in research reporting, are not universally required by academic journals, conferences, or other publishers. Some are of the opinion that the guidelines are not followed or enforced enough to make them a requirement. Others believe that they impose an unfair burden on researchers with smaller budgets or limited resources. Still others believe that these guidelines would stifle research publication by permitting only the best-reported studies to achieve publication. However, the guidelines so closely support the scientific method and evidence-based decision-making, that it would seem these guidelines (and their acronyms) are here to stay.