Research Basics: EQUATOR, CONSORT, STROBE – what’s all that about?

EQUATOR is a good place to start if you’re struggling with writing up your research protocol or results. The EQUATOR Network (Enhancing the QUAlity and Transparency Of health Research) provides guidelines for reporting different types of health research. The EQUATOR Network is an international initiative that aims to “achieve accurate, complete, and transparent reporting of all health research studies” and includes researchers, journal editors, peer reviewers, and other relevant bodies.

The best known EQUATOR guidelines are probably the CONSORT guidelines for reporting randomised trials. There are dozens of other guidelines for reporting different types, and sub-types, of studies, protocols and even quality improvement activities. The guidelines generally walk you through areas like Introduction, Methods and Results, and what detail to include when reporting your study. This checklist can also help when designing your study and research protocol. For example, the STROBE checklist for Observational Studies has 22 items to include in your report, such as “Item 5: Setting – Describe the setting, locations, and relevant dates, including periods of recruitment, exposure, follow-up and data collection” and “Item 10: Study size – Explain how the study size was arrived at.

The EQUATOR website also hosts other useful resources for research beginners, such as a Library for health research reporting, covering topics such as Guidance on Scientific Writing; toolkits for authors about planning and conducting research, writing up research, and even communicating with the media. 

The EQUATOR website is well worth exploring for its free, easy-to-use research resources. 

For further information for research newbies, see 8 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting My First Research Project.

Disclaimer: I am still a research wannabe rather than a researcher – please keep this in mind when considering my advice! 

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