Pilot project uses technology to increase clinical trial transparency

Journals will link published reports of clinical trials to the registered studies as part of Crossref initiative

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Clinical trials are a key component of medical research, but for the results to be useful, researchers have to be aware of them. That’s the idea behind a new multi-publisher pilot project led by Crossref.

Participating journals will share details of registered clinical trials with Crossref so they can be linked to studies that were published as a result of the trial. This will create a linked network of papers relevant to individual clinical trials. As a result, studies that were derived from one trial but published by different publishers years apart can now be linked.

Linking studies to the clinical trial registration will enhance readers’ understanding of the full results that came out of a trial, making scientific reporting more transparent. It will also enable readers to more easily measure the results of trials against their original aims.

At Elsevier, 20 of the leading health and medical science journals will participate in the pilot initially, including The Lancet, the European Journal of Cancer and the American Journal of Cardiology. Other health and medical science journals will be added after the initial test phase.

How it works

For papers that report on clinical trials, participating publishers will provide Crossref with the DOI and clinical trial number of the article.

For papers that report on clinical trials, participating publishers will provide Crossref with the DOI and clinical trial number of the article.

Researchers can then find studies linked to clinical trials by clicking on the CrossMark logo on a particular trial report or by using Crossref open APIs.

Researchers can then find studies linked to clinical trials by clicking on the CrossMark logo on a particular trial report or by using Crossref open APIs.

This is one of various initiatives Elsevier has participated in to support clinical trial transparency. Others include supporting the AllTrials campaign and creating journals to publish “negative” results and the Registered Reports initiative.

In this pilot, the clinical trial registries involved are endorsed by the World Health Organization. They include ClinicalTrials.gov, the UTN and ISRCTN registries, along with several leading national registries, such as the Chinese Clinical Trial Registry.

Elsevier has identified over 5,000 records of clinical trial registrations among the first 20 journals in this pilot, with many more journals and accompanying clinical trial reports ready to be added after this pilot has launched. “We are excited to use technology to improve the transparency of STM reporting,” said David Clark, Senior VP of Health & Medical Sciences at Elsevier.

Kirsty Meddings, Product Manager at Crossref, said the records from Elsevier “will be a huge boost” to the initiative. “Elsevier has been one of the integral participants in planning the pilot, and we are excited to see the results start to come in.”

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