BJP Policy Editorials
Revised 2017 Editorials
Updating the guidelines for data transparency in the British Journal of Pharmacology – data sharing and the use of scatter plots instead of bar charts
By Christopher H George, S Clare Stanford, Steve Alexander, Giuseppe Cirino, James R Docherty, Mark A Giembycz, Daniel Hoyer, Paul A Insel, Angelo A Izzo, Yong Ji, David J MacEwan, Christopher G Sobey, Sue Wonnacott and Amrita Ahluwalia
In 2015, BJP issued new guidelines for authors of research papers.
Research papers are subject to conventions in their make-up so that readers can follow what the question was, how authors approached answering it, what they actually did in their experiments and how they interpreted the results. That, roughly, corresponds to Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion.
It is important that the scientific and ethical aspects are clear. Yet scientific papers in the biomedical sphere have come under criticism recently on the basis that information provided is inadequate (more “transparency” is needed), that the experimental design is not up to the task of answering the question, or that poorly considered statistical interpretation of the results leads to exaggerated claims (and this is made worse by bad design).
We have given some thought to all this, with a view to improving the papers we publish, by guiding our authors to address these problems in specific ways. This is discussed and set out in a series of editorials and made clear in new Author Guidelines.
McGrath & Curtis (2015) sets out the general principles.
McGrath, McLachlan & Zeller (2015) and McGrath & Lilley (2015) discuss and set out how we propose to deal with reporting experiments involving animals.
Curtis et al. (2015) discusses experimental design and statistical analysis.
McGrath, Pawson, Sharman & Alexander (2015) describe how we will link articles to the world of databases via GuidetoPHARMACOLOGY.org.
We emphasise the gathering of essential information that authors often forget to include: we have created a slightly different structure for the manuscript, which gathers this information in one place and makes it harder for it to be omitted. We insist on the inclusion of some very basic aspects of experimental design and analysis that are often taken for granted. Finally, as a pharmacology journal, we link each manuscript to state-of-the-art information sources on the main drugs and drug targets involved via the internationally recognised database of the International Union for Basic and Clinical Pharmacology, GuidetoPHARMACOLOGY.org.
This changes the job of putting the paper together a little. However, the author should be compensated by not having to add so many things in revision and by the likelihood of early rejection being reduced.
In peer review, the referees should be able to find essential information more easily and will have a simpler task in ensuring that it is sufficient.
The readers should not find that the overall structure of the paper has changed much but they should be able to obtain essential information more easily and will find the paper is both more reliable in its content and more transparent.
Finally, all papers published in BJP will be certified as consistent with a Declaration on Ethical Requirements and a weblink to this will be inserted. This will show that your paper is consistent with the policies of the major funding agencies, including NIH in the United States and the Research Councils, Wellcome Trust and major charities in the UK.
Transparency in Research involving Animals: The Basel Declaration and new principles for reporting research in BJP manuscripts
McGrath JC, McLachlan EM, Zeller R
BJP is changing its requirements for scientific papers to increase transparency
McGrath JC, Curtis MJ
BJP is linking its articles to the IUPHAR/BPS Guide to PHARMACOLOGY
McGrath JC, Pawson AJ, Sharman JL, Alexander SPH
Experimental design and analysis and their reporting: new guidance for publication in BJP
Curtis MJ, Bond RA, Spina D, Ahluwalia A, Alexander SPA, Giembycz MA, et. al.
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