Dr Dennis Gorman

Use of publication procedures to improve research integrity by alcohol and other drug journals

Dr Dennis Gorman

Aims: It is now recognized that a crisis of credibility exists in many academic disciplines which manifests itself in the publication of too many positive results that cannot be replicated. Many of the disciplines most affected by this credibility crisis publish their research findings in alcohol and other drug (AOD)  journals. This presentation examines the extent to which these journals have adopted procedures to improve the quality of published research.

Methods: Using the 2016 Journal Citation Report and Scimago, the 20 highest impact AOD journals were identified. Journals’ instructions to authors, along with the webpages of CONSORT and the Center for Open Science, were searched to identify whether or not the journals had adopted each of the following six publication procedures: conflict of interest disclosure; reporting standards; clinical trial registration; registration of other study designs; data sharing; and registered reports.

Results: An average of 2.5 procedures (range 0-5) have been adopted by the 20 high-impact AOD journals. Conflict of interest disclosure is required by 19/20 journals, reporting standards by 5/20, clinical trial registration by 8/20, registration of other study designs by 2/20, voluntary data sharing by 14/20, and registered reports by 1/20.

Conclusions: The publication procedures adopted are those of limited effectiveness due to their voluntary nature or lack of compliance and poor monitoring. The more stringent requirements, which entail pre-registration of hypotheses and analysis plans, have not been widely adopted. Given problems with research reproducibility in disciplines that publish in AOD journals, this is an inadequate response by editors.