What instructions and guidance do journals provide to their reviewers to assess submitted manuscripts? : A survey with particular emphasis on the use of reporting guidelines

The project aims to survey journals’ instructions to reviewers of submitted manuscripts. The study will summarise if and how journals use reporting guidelines in the peer review process, and will explore how effective the editors have found reporting guidelines in improving manuscript quality.

The survey will provide an indication of the degree to which reporting guidelines are currently formally used in the peer review process. The study also hopes to identify examples of good practice which may inform recommendations for consideration by other journals. If simple processes which journals have found to be helpful can be identified, more journals may consider using them which may help to improve the quality of submissions to journals and, ultimately, ease the role of peer reviewers.

This project will be undertaken by Allison Hirst, Research Fellow at the EQUATOR Network, with EQUATOR Steering Group colleagues Professor Doug Altman, Dr Iveta Simera, Dr David Moher, Dr John Hoey and Dr Kenneth F. Schulz. The EQUATOR Network is an international initiative set up to advance high quality reporting of health research studies; it promotes good reporting practices including the wider implementation of reporting guidelines.

The following publication has arisen from this project: Hirst A, Altman DG (2012). Are peer reviewers encouraged to use reporting guidelines? A survey of 116 health research journals. PLoS ONE 7(4): e35621. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035621.