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Incomplete reporting of complex interventions: a call to action for journal editors to review their submission guidelines.

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Hoffmann, Tammy 
Hofmann, Riikka 


Reporting of intervention research has been inadequate for many years. The development and promotion of freely available checklists aims to address this problem by providing researchers with a list of items that require reporting to enable study interpretation and replication. In this commentary, we present evidence from a recent systematic review of 51 randomised controlled trials published 2015-2020 that inadequate intervention reporting remains a widespread issue and that checklists are not being used to describe all intervention components. In 2022, we assessed the submission guidelines of 33 journals that published articles included in our review and found that just one at the time encouraged the use of reporting checklists for all intervention components. To drive progress, we contacted the editors of the other 32 journals and requested that they update their submission guidelines in response. We conclude by highlighting the waste associated with current practices and encourage journals from all fields to urgently review their submission guidelines. Only through collective action can we build an evidence base that is fit for purpose.



Reproducibility, Complex Interventions, Research Integrity, Journal Editors, Submission Guidelines, Reporting Checklists, Humans, Publishing, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic, Checklist

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Economic and Social Research Council (ES/P000738/1)
Medical Research Council (MC_UU_00006/5)