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Research Methods & Reporting

CONSORT 2010 Statement: updated guidelines for reporting parallel group randomised trials

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c332 (Published 24 March 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c332

What's missing from CONSORT 2010

The revised CONSORT guideline is a welcome contribution to attempts
to
make reporting of research more robust.[1] However, the fact that it
entirely
omits any mention of guest or ghost authorship is cause for concern.

There is now increasing awareness of the extent to which people who
have
not contributed to a paper are credited as authors (guest authorship) and
those who have contributed are not (ghost authorship).[2] Such deceptive
practice is unethical and can weaken otherwise strong evidence:
"Transparent
and complete identification of contributors to research publication is
essential to scientific integrity."[3]

In CONSORT 2010's checklist of information that must be included when

reporting a trial, the first item mentioned is "Title and abstract"; the
second
is "Introduction". Why is no reference made to the importance of honest
attribution of authorship? The guidelines of the International Committee
of
Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) state that “All persons designated as
authors
should qualify for authorship, and all those who qualify should be
listed”,
and strict criteria are provided for what constitutes authorship.[4] Given
that
CONSORT goes into so much detail about what should be included in a
report, it is surprising that no mention is made of the importance of
accurate
authorship reporting.

CONSORT 2010 correctly states that "readers of a published report
need
complete, clear and transparent information on its methodology and
findings." They also need to know who actually wrote the research report.
Given that its aim is to encourage “lucid and complete descriptions…of
critical information”, CONSORT should at the very least refer authors to
the
ICMJE guidelines.

Dr David Shaw, Lecturer in Ethics, University of Glasgow

References

1. Schulz KF, Altman DG, Moher D. CONSORT 2010 Statement: updated
guidelines for reporting parallel group randomised trials. BMJ
2010;340:c332

2. Wislar J, Flanagin A, Fontanarosa PB, DeAngelis CD. Prevalence of
honorary
and ghost authorship in 6 general medical journals, 2009 [abstract]. Sixth

International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication;
September 10-12, 2009; Vancouver.

3. Murray S, Brophy J, Palepu A. Open Medicine’s ghost and guest
authorship
policy. Open Medicine 2010; 4(1).
http://www.openmedicine.ca/article/view/378/296 (accessed 30/3/10)

4. International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Uniform
Requirements
for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals: Ethical Considerations
in
the Conduct and Reporting of Research: Authorship and Contributorship.
http://www.icmje.org/ethical_1author.html (accessed 30/3/10)

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

31 March 2010
David M Shaw
Lecturer in Ethics
University of Glasgow, G2 3JZ