Intended for healthcare professionals


Automatic registration for UK trials

BMJ 2022; 376 doi: (Published 14 January 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;376:o41
  1. Stephen H Bradley, clinical research fellow,
  2. Kelly E Lloyd, doctoral student1,
  3. Nicholas J DeVito, doctoral researcher2
  1. 1Leeds Institute of Health Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  2. 2DataLab and Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to: S Bradley medsbra{at}

A welcome development, not a panacea

Public registration of studies before they start (prospective registration) is an effective way to reduce publication and other reporting biases in healthcare research. Such biases can result in misleading findings, waste resources, and even harm patients.12

Publicly declaring hypotheses and methods before results are known is hardly new, but the potential of study registration to improve transparency and reproducibility has not been fully realised. Registration of certain clinical trials has been mandatory for several years in the US, EU, and UK, and the Declaration of Helsinki stipulates that every study with human subjects must be registered in a publicly accessible database before recruitment begins.345 Compliance with these legal and ethical obligations has steadily improved, but violations are still common, with academic and public institutions lagging behind commercial organisations.67

In response, the UK’s medical research regulator, the Health Research Authority (HRA), has published a new policy framework to “make transparency the norm” and announced plans for all UK clinical trials to be automatically …

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