A new guideline for the communication of research results has been developed to improve reproducibility, replication and transparency in the life sciences.
The new MDAR (Research Materials, Design, Analysis and Reporting) framework will harmonize the recording of results in several major journals, according to its developers.
The existing guidelines deal with specific parts of biomedical research, such as ARRIVE – which relates to animal research – and CONSORT, associated with the notification of clinical trials.
The MDAR framework – developed by a team from the University of Edinburgh, the Center for Open Science and six major journal publishers – complements them by establishing basic minimum reporting requirements and best practice recommendations.
The framework is described in a new publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Experimenting with various guidelines resulted in a fragmented landscape which, while improving reporting, wasted time for authors and editors.
According to the team, the flexibility of the framework provides an opportunity for harmonization between journal publications, making it easier for authors to know what is expected when submitting a manuscript and improving portability between journals. journals.
This flexibility will also facilitate adoption by publishers. They will be able to select the sections of the Framework that are most appropriate for the scope of specific journals.
The framework includes an optional checklist for authors, editors or reviewers and explanatory documents to facilitate implementation.
The checklist was tested on 289 manuscripts submitted to 13 different journals. Feedback from authors, editors and external experts was then used to improve the framework.
The team hopes that the framework will also be useful for other organizations, such as funders who can indicate their reporting expectations to their beneficiaries during the initial design of studies.
Professor Malcolm Macleod, Academic Head of Research Improvement and Research Integrity at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Improving research is a challenge – it requires continuous effort, adapting to the changing demands and circumstances of the time. No single intervention will suffice, but we hope that the MDAR framework can contribute to the range of initiatives that support improvement. “
The six editors who have worked on the Framework include Science/ AAAS, eLife, Cell/ Elsevier, PLOS, Springer Nature and Wiley.
The full set of MDAR resources are available in a collection on the Open Science Framework. It will be maintained and updated as a community resource.
Veronique Kiermer, Chief Scientific Officer at PLOS, said: “As more journals adopt similar reporting guidelines, they collectively raise the bar and make it easier for authors to know what is expected. Over time, as research and reporting practices change, we hope that journals will continue to evolve their advice to authors, moving from minimum requirement to best practice. “
Sowmya Swaminathan, Editorial Policy and Research Integrity Manager, Nature Portfolio, Springer Nature, said: “Through my work in several journals, I have learned that improving the quality of publications is a complex task, each journal presenting its own challenges. The MDAR framework can be applied broadly and flexibly so that journals can choose an implementation level that suits their needs. The MDAR framework can be applied broadly and flexibly so that journals can choose an implementation level that suits their needs. “
David Mellor, Policy Director of the Center for Open Science, said: “This framework will add clarity for researchers, readers and journals to reduce barriers to replicating empirical findings. At COS, we are happy to manage MDAR so that it can remain a viable practice for the foreseeable future. “