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The limitation of word count in Chinese journals: a potential impediment for implementing the CONSORT statement

Date and Location




Sunday 22 September 2013 - 10:30 - 12:00


Presenting author and contact person

Presenting author

Zhigang Zhang

Contact person

Xiaohu Wang
Abstract text
Background: Though improvement in recent years, the reporting quality of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) is still poor in China according to the CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) statement. Poor reporting quality may make RCTs less credible in clinical application and lower value in further study. Generally, good reporting quality needs certain number of article words. The limitation of word count in Chinese journal may be a possible hindering factor for the application of the CONSORT statement in China. Objectives:To assess the current situation about limitation of word count in Chinese journals. Methods:‘Instructions to Authors’ of Chinese clinical journals indexed by ‘Chinese Science Citation Database, CSCD’ were systematically collected in January 2013. The data of word limitation was extracted by two reviewers independently. The data were analyzed in Excel 2007. Results:Overall, 219 journals were eligible. In the 219 journals, 57 journals didn’t mention any information about limitation of word in ‘Instructions to Authors’. And no maximum limitation of words account was claimed only in 4 journals. Limited to a maximum words account of 10000, 8000, 7000, 6000, 5000, 4000, 3000 Chinese characters were claimed in 3, 10, 2, 33, 76, 30, 4 journals respectively. 4000 to 6000 words were still the common maximum limitation (63.5%). And there were only 5 journals which claimed that RCTs should be reported according to the CONSORT statement (2.3%). Conclusions:The limitation of word count in RCTs was still widespread in Chinese clinical journals, and limited to 4000-6000 Chinese characters was most common. Though there was no unambiguous evidence about appropriate words for good reporting of RCTs in Chinese, word limitation may played a hindering factor on the application of the CONSORT statement in China. The minimum of Chinese characters count which is sufficient for good reporting is still unproved.