Making the results of all clinical trials accessible to researchers, clinicians and the public not only promotes transparency in clinical research, it also ensures that all the evidence is available for informed clinical decision making. The widespread support for greater transparency in research is perhaps best demonstrated by the huge support garnered by the AllTrials initiative.
However, actually getting all the results published is quite another thing and it’s with this goal in mind that Peter Doshi and his colleagues proposed their initiative Restoring Invisible and Abandoned Trials (RIAT) in the British Medical Journal. Six months on from their publication, the Editors-in-Chief of Trials and the Journal of Negative Results in BioMedicine have written an open letter (which we’ve reproduced below) to almost 200 publication managers in large pharmaceutical companies to follow up on the 12-month ‘grace period’ proposed in the RIAT publication.
In June, Doshi and colleagues published their article ‘Restoring invisible and abandoned trials (RIAT): a call for people to publish the findings’ in the BMJ, inviting independent ‘restorative authors’ to step in and take charge of unpublished or misrepresented trials. This article presented not so much a ‘publish or be damned’ approach as a ‘publish or be published’ one; however, the proposal gave the original triallists and sponsors a one-year grace period to publish the work themselves.
We are writing to declare BioMed Central‘s commitment to supporting and facilitating the publication of all trial results in order to complete the scientific record, and encourage the original triallists and sponsors to publicly state their intent to publish their results and to follow through on that intent. Too many journals do not accept incomplete or negative results so, as the Editors-in-Chief of the BMC Medical Evidence Portfolio’s flagship title Trials and its sister journal the Journal of Negative Results in BioMedicine, we are inviting RIAT authors to submit their ‘restored’ trial reports to us for publication, as we consider all well-conducted, ethical biomedical research, regardless of outcome.
These papers will be considered in the context of our existing publication criteria and, as with any other study, a RIAT study will undergo review by an Associate Editor and external peer reviewers. However, negative or controversial results, or indeed unfinished studies, are no barrier to publication and we provide a simplified format for the reporting of this information, to facilitate publication and ensure that the published record is complete.
We are committed to making the results of all clinical trials accessible to researchers, clinicians and the public, to promote transparency and to make the best evidence available for informed clinical decision making. While we appreciate the difficulties presented by analysing, authoring, peer-reviewing and publishing the trials, if we do not make the effort we will not achieve progress toward the ultimate goal of transparency of clinical trials and access to all available data for making the best clinical decisions. Therefore, we want to appeal to triallists to make this effort to set the scientific record straight. Thank you.
Doug Altman, Curt Furberg, Jeremy Grimshaw and Bjorn Olsen