The Lancet released a 5-part series of reports this week on how to reduce waste in medical research caused by unpublished, unusable or incomplete reporting. Authors of the article by Chan et al say: “When full information about studies is inaccessible, billions of dollars in investment are wasted, bias is introduced, and research and care of patients are detrimentally affected.”

The AllTrials campaign was praised in the report by Glasziou et al for its “cross-sectoral support”. The consensus from the series is that this kind of collaboration is necessary to change the research reporting infrastructure. Researchers, funding bodies, institutions, ethics committees and regulators will have to work together to ensure that we get more value from the resources used to produce research.

Recommendations from the series include:

  • Institutions and funding bodies should introduce rewards for investigators who fully disseminate their research, including negative results
  • A common set of standards for content of protocols and full study reports should be developed by investigators, funders, regulators and journals so that methods are reproducible and results transparent
  • These standards (such as CONSORT, STARD, PRISMA and ARRIVE) should be rigorously enforced across the system
  • Institutes, funding bodies, regulators and journals should enforce trial registration, with automatic refusal to fund/approve/publish without a trial registration number

Authors suggest that raising awareness of the impact of sub-standard reporting, better training of researchers, journal editors and reviewers, and the enforcement of a clear set of reporting standards, would reduce waste in medical research. Read the series of reports on The Lancet website here.