Practical issues in reporting

This section discusses some ofthe more practical issues to consider when contemplating submitting a trial report. Authorship style is always an important issue, but one best dealt with in advance by specifying the rules to be followed in the protocol; therefore this is discussed in Section 8.9.

10.5.1 Always publish

Whatever the results, always aim to publish the trial in some format, irrespective of whether or not it was completed as planned, and whether or not there were problems with its conduct that may make the results difficult to interpret. Even when all trials are registered (see Section 11.5.4), publication of results will still be the best way to ensure that the totality of evidence concerning a particular treatment is readily available to those for whom the results are relevant - including 'consumers' of evidence (both clinicians and patients) and those planning new research. This principle is increasingly recognized not just by those conducting trials, but also by many of the medical journals. Sadly, however, there is still evidence of publication bias, with some journals far more likely to publish trials with 'positive' results (see Chapter 11). This makes the aim of publishing all trials difficult to achieve, but nonetheless it should be pursued. If the trial is not accepted as a full article (and not just by your first choice of journal), then there is still the possibility of putting the basic results in a letter and/or publishing electronically. There is often much to be learnt from trials which 'fail'; reporting your attempts to conduct a trial, the problems you encountered, the solutions you attempted whether or not they were successful, all provides valuable information for those working in the area - it is often the most interesting trials which are the most difficult to carry out successfully. Finally, there is an ethical imperative to publish in order to acknowledge the contribution which patients who took part in the trial have made.

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