Data sharing and reanalysis of randomized controlled trials in leading biomedical journals with a full data sharing policy: survey of studies published in The BMJ and PLOS Medicine

Authors : Florian Naudet, Charlotte Sakarovitch, Perrine Janiaud, Ioana Cristea, Daniele Fanelli, David Moher, John P A Ioannidis

Objectives

To explore the effectiveness of data sharing by randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in journals with a full data sharing policy and to describe potential difficulties encountered in the process of performing reanalyses of the primary outcomes.

Design

Survey of published RCTs.

Setting

PubMed/Medline.

Eligibility criteria

RCTs that had been submitted and published by The BMJ and PLOS Medicine subsequent to the adoption of data sharing policies by these journals.

Main outcome measure

The primary outcome was data availability, defined as the eventual receipt of complete data with clear labelling. Primary outcomes were reanalyzed to assess to what extent studies were reproduced. Difficulties encountered were described.

Results

37 RCTs (21 from The BMJ and 16 from PLOS Medicine) published between 2013 and 2016 met the eligibility criteria. 17/37 (46%, 95% confidence interval 30% to 62%) satisfied the definition of data availability and 14 of the 17 (82%, 59% to 94%) were fully reproduced on all their primary outcomes. Of the remaining RCTs, errors were identified in two but reached similar conclusions and one paper did not provide enough information in the Methods section to reproduce the analyses. Difficulties identified included problems in contacting corresponding authors and lack of resources on their behalf in preparing the datasets. In addition, there was a range of different data sharing practices across study groups.

Conclusions

Data availability was not optimal in two journals with a strong policy for data sharing. When investigators shared data, most reanalyses largely reproduced the original results. Data sharing practices need to become more widespread and streamlined to allow meaningful reanalyses and reuse of data.

 

Assessing the utility of an institutional publications officer: a pilot assessment

Authors : Kelly D. Cobey, James Galipeau, Larissa Shamseer, David Moher

Background

The scholarly publication landscape is changing rapidly. We investigated whether the introduction of an institutional publications officer might help facilitate better knowledge of publication topics and related resources, and effectively support researchers to publish.

Methods

In September 2015, a purpose-built survey about researchers’ knowledge and perceptions of publication practices was administered at five Ottawa area research institutions. Subsequently, we publicly announced a newly hired publications officer (KDC) who then began conducting outreach at two of the institutions.

Specifically, the publications officer gave presentations, held one-to-one consultations, developed electronic newsletter content, and generated and maintained a webpage of resources. In March 2016, we re-surveyed our participants regarding their knowledge and perceptions of publishing.

Mean scores to the perception questions, and the percent of correct responses to the knowledge questions, pre and post survey, were computed for each item. The difference between these means or calculated percentages was then examined across the survey measures.

Results

82 participants completed both surveys. Of this group, 29 indicated that they had exposure to the publications officer, while the remaining 53 indicated they did not. Interaction with the publications officer led to improvements in half of the knowledge items (7/14 variables).

While improvements in knowledge of publishing were also found among those who reported not to have interacted with the publications officer (9/14), these effects were often smaller in magnitude. Scores for some publication knowledge variables actually decreased between the pre and post survey (3/14).

Effects for researchers’ perceptions of publishing increased for 5/6 variables in the group that interacted with the publications officer.

Discussion

This pilot provides initial indication that, in a short timeframe, introducing an institutional publications officer may improve knowledge and perceptions surrounding publishing.

This study is limited by its modest sample size and temporal relationship between the introduction of the publications officer and changes in knowledge and perceptions. A randomized trial examining the publications officer as an effective intervention is needed.

URL : Assessing the utility of an institutional publications officer: a pilot assessment

DOI : https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.3294