Promoting research transparency - Interventions to improve the publication and dissemination of trial evidence: A scoping review
2South African Medical Research Council, South Africa
3Queen's University Belfast, United Kingdom
Background: No matter the effects of a clinical trial’s tested intervention, trial investigators are ethically responsible for disseminating their findings through peer-reviewed journals. However, this only sometimes happens. Lacking trial data because of publication bias damages the evidence ecosystem. Failure to share trial results publicly is a disservice to informing patients, clinicians, and healthcare consumers that rely on up-to-date evidence they can trust. Research needs to be transparent. Noting this, trial investigators may have barriers to publishing because of funding, competing interests, and time. This scoping review aims to identify and describe interventions that target trial investigators to reduce publication bias.
Objectives: To identify investigator-targeted interventions to promote the publishing of research findings.
Methods: We conducted a scoping review using the PRISMA guidelines. We searched PubMed and Scopus using words related to interventions and “publication bias”, “trial”, “publication”, “publish”, etc., with no date or language limitations. Backward and forward citation searches followed the search structured search. We screened and extracted data in duplicate and independently.
Results: We screened 10,000 records and found 23 full texts to review, of which one study was eligible. The backward and forward citations yielded an additional 47 eligible studies. None of the studies focused on trial investigators but on general health-related researchers. All studies focused on writing interventions through workshops, mentoring and peer support ,and capacitated investigators to publish in journals. Approximately 70% of studies report that participants published because of these interventions. Generally, participants had increased confidence in their writing abilities.
Conclusions: We found a research gap with this scoping review. Eligible studies did not focus their interventions on trial investigators to avoid publication bias. All studies focused on ways to improve manuscript writing. Future interventions may consider adding checklist tools like the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials to their writing intervention. Future research should involve ethics committees and trial registers to mitigate publication bias among trial investigators and promote research transparency. Patient, public, and/or healthcare consumer involvement: no involvement in this research. Given the interest in trial data since the COVID-19 pandemic, we welcome consumer feedback.