A systematic survey of methods guidance suggests areas for improvement regarding access, development, and transparency Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: To assess the current practice of developing and presenting methods guidance and explore opportunities for improvement. STUDY DESIGN AND SETTING: We systematically surveyed methods guidance published in high-impact general and methodology-focused medical journals indexed in MEDLINE in 2020. We included articles that explicitly stated the objective to provide methods guidance for health research. We extracted characteristics related to findability, methods used for development, presentation, and transparency. RESULTS: We included 105 methods guidance articles published in 12 different journals. Less than half had a structured abstract (42%) or was indexed with medical subject headings (38%) or author keywords (17%) related to guidance. Methods for development, reported in 42%, differed between reporting guidelines (n = 13, 100% reported methods) and other guidance articles (n = 92, 34% reported methods). Frequent methods for presentation were illustrative case studies (45%), research checklists (34%), and step-by-step guides (10%). Most articles did not describe the authors' expertise (22%). Conflicts of interest, reported in 34%, were often unclear. CONCLUSION: Potential areas for improving methods guidance include better findability through more consistent labeling and indexing and standards for development and reporting.


  • Hirt, Julian
  • Ewald, Hannah
  • Lawson, Daeria O
  • Hemkens, Lars G
  • Briel, Matthias
  • Schandelmaier, Stefan

publication date

  • September 2022