Research Registry – avoiding the loss of knowledge

So, you have a great research idea, follow it up with months of work and then, gone to the world - successfully stuck in the publication pipeline. Hopefully not for much longer with Research Registry, Kiron Koshy and Riaz Agha talk about this further.

Stuck in the publication pipeline
Stuck in the publication pipeline
adapted from 2Dimensions.com

Unfortunately, there are millions of reasons good research will never see the light of a computer screen. In fact, the vast majority of research carried out will not be published. But, there are many reasons we need to have a record that it has taken place:

  1. Increased transparency of research
  2. Reduction of publication and reporting bias (not all studies performed are published – especially negative studies)
  3. Improvement of research quality – allows for open and early peer-review of study objectives and methods and their refinement
  4. Global collaboration between researchers – more multicentre studies
  5. Comparison of study findings with registered study protocol
  6. Respect, dignity and ethics – people who enter studies expect a permanent record of it.

A simple answer to this is a research registry. This is a database that allows researchers to provide specific details about their project to serve as a record for the scientific community.

We are starting to get wise on this; the World Medical Association’s Declaration of Helsinki 2013 states in article 35:

‘Every research study involving human subjects must be registered in a publicly accessible database before recruitment of the first subject.’

‘Every research study involving human subjects must be registered in a publicly accessible database before recruitment of the first subject.

However, we are still a long way from this.

Having recently attended a Health Research Authority (HRA) UK meeting on research transparency, it was clear that increased registration of research is a prominent focus in this task.

A new research registry called, very simply, Research Registry, was launched in February 2015 and has been steadily gaining ground internationally. The aim of the founder Dr Riaz Agha, was to develop a free, intuitive database that enables registration both prospectively and retrospectively, that is to say, before or after the study has been carried out.

The database has been endorsed by the IDEAL collaborative, which is an initiative to improve the quality of surgical research.

This database accepts most forms of human medical research, from first-in-human case studies, to randomized control trials, cohort studies and systematic reviews.

This database accepts most forms of human medical research, from first-in-human case studies, to randomized control trials, cohort studies and systematic reviews. This therefore, can form a platform to allow greater visibility of observational research.

However, to allow easier comparison between studies registered, animal studies should not be registered on this database.

How to register your research

Registration is intuitive and takes around 5 – 10 minutes to complete. Head to www.researchregistry.com and select ‘register your research now’ or ‘register your systematic review now’. You will need to create a free account, which only requires your name, email address and a password.

After this just enter information into each box of the form. The intervention section particularly, provides the most information about your study, so try to be as descriptive as possible.

As soon as you select ‘submit’, your entry will be recorded on the database and you will be provided with a registration number, which can be inputted into ethics applications and the like.

Data on Research Registry is curated retrospectively to allow faster response time for the user. Details of our curation process is available in the data curation section.

A common worry is that a researcher’s data can be used and published by others. However, as results are not displayed on the database your data will remain your own.

Registering your study allows you to make your work more accessible and reduces duplication of effort. If you pre-register before you start collecting data it can also make it easier to gain approval from ethics committees.

So go ahead and register your research past, current and future. To read more about Research Registry and the stimulus for its development please read the full editorial.

More recently IJS Protocols has been launched, so surgical protocols can now also be peer-reviewed and published.

Simply, when considering your research bear in mind the old medical adage: “If you didn’t write it down, it didn’t happen”.

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