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Do prominent biomedical journals have methods for detecting outcome reporting bias? (survey of the top 30 journals by impact factor).

Date and Location




Friday 20 September 2013 - 15:30 - 17:00


Presenting author and contact person

Presenting author

Aaron M Tejani

Contact person

Aaron M Tejani
Abstract text
Background: Outcome reporting bias (ORB) is an increasingly recognized source of bias within primary research with the potential to negatively influence systematic reviews and healthcare in general. Literature is arising regarding outcome reporting bias’ effect on research but no studies have been conducted to determine if biomedical journals have processes to minimize the impact of ORB. Objectives: To investigate the top 30 biomedical journals ranked by impact factor for their methods, if any, on the detection and management of outcome reporting bias. Methods: For each journal who agreed to participate, we administered a standardized set of survey questions via e-mail or telephone. Results: 24 (83%) journals responded to our initial inquiry of which 14 (58%) responded to our questions and 10 (42%) declined participation. 5 (36%) journals indicated they had a specific method to detect ORB whereas 9 (64%) journals did not. 6 (43%) journals delegated this responsibility to both peer reviewers and editors, while 4 (28.5%) relied solely on peer reviewers. The remaining 4 (28.5%) journals did not indicate either peer reviewers or editors as responsible for detecting ORB. 4 (29%) journals indicated ORB was found commonly in the review process whereas 7 (50%) indicated ORB was uncommon or never detected by their journal previously. Conclusions: Many prominent medical journals lack a method with which to detect outcome reporting bias. Improvements at the medical journal level for detecting outcome reporting bias are needed. We recommend that journals mandate the submission of the original trial protocol by researchers. In addition, diligent cross-referencing of the manuscript and data set to the protocol by editorial staff and peer reviewers should be routinely performed to minimize the influence of ORB on both primary research and systematic reviews.