Numerous reporting guidelines are available to help authors write higher-quality papers more efficiently. Almost 200 are listed on the EQUATOR (Enhancing the Quality and Transparency of Health Research) Network's website and they vary in authority, usability, and breadth, making it difficult to decide which one(s) to use. This paper provides consistent information about guidelines for preventive medicine and public health and a framework and sequential approach for selecting them. The EQUATOR guidelines were reviewed for relevance to target audiences; selected guidelines were classified as "core" (frequently recommended) or specialized, and the latter were grouped by their focus. Core and specialized guidelines were coded for indicators of authority (simultaneous publication in multiple journals, rationale, scientific background supporting each element, expertise of designers, permanent website/named group), usability (presence of checklists and examples of good reporting), and breadth (article sections covered). Discrepancies were resolved by consensus. Selected guidelines are presented in four tables arranged to facilitate selection: core guidelines, all of which pertain to major research designs; guidelines for additional study designs; topical guidelines; and guidelines for particular article sections. A flow diagram provides an overview. The framework and sequential approach will enable authors as well as editors, peer reviewers, researchers, and systematic reviewers to make optimal use of available guidelines to improve the transparency, clarity, and rigor of manuscripts and research protocols and the efficiency in conducting systematic reviews and meta-analyses.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health