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Introduction: Guidance has been published on how best to report randomised controlled trials (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials - CONSORT) and systematic reviews (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses - PRISMA). The aim of this study was to establish to what extent surgical journals formally endorse CONSORT and PRISMA in the respective reporting of randomised controlled trials and systematic reviews. Methods: Overall, 136 surgical journals indexed in Journal Citation Reports® were studied. Author guidelines were scrutinised for the following guidance: conflict of interests (COI), the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts (URM), clinical trial registration, CONSORT and PRISMA. Results: The frequency of guidance endorsement was found to be as follows: COI 82%, URM 62%, trial registration 32%, CONSORT 29% and PRISMA 10%. Journals with a higher impact were more likely to adopt trial registration, CONSORT and PRISMA. Journals with editorial offices in the UK were more likely to insist on disclosure of COI and to endorse CONSORT. Conclusions: Guidelines produced to improve publication practice have not been implemented widely by surgical journals. This may contribute to an overall poorer quality of published research. Editors of surgical journals should uniformly endorse reporting guidance and update their instructions to authors to reflect this.

Original publication




Journal article


Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England

Publication Date





468 - 471