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Identification of stakeholders and measures, barriers and facilitating factors to overcome publication bias


  • Identification of existing measures/initiatives to counter publication bias (policies/instruments and implementation/practices, their goals and expected impact) 
  • Identification of key opinion leaders in the field of publication bias and of stakeholder groups inside and outside the scientific community who deal with publication bias or lead initiatives against publication bias
  • Systematic assessment of the effectiveness of different initiatives to reduce publication bias in the published and grey literature
  • Exploring motivations and barriers of journals to adopt or reject a policy that requires trial registration as a prerequisite for publication.  

Task 3.1 - Identification of key opinion leaders in the field of publication bias

This task uses text-based document and world-wide web searches for the systematic and objective identification of key opinion leaders (KOLs) present and active in the field of publication bias. To this end, this task

  • uses all relevant literature “abstract information” (e.g. title, author, affiliation) identified in Task 3.2 to identify research communities working on similar themes from network analysis,
  • uses co-references (linking articles) and co-publication (linking references) bibliometric analyses to cluster and visualize references and publications thematically
  • identifies KOLs within the scientific community by highest times cited, most active, central position in cluster
  • uses advanced, state-of-the-art methods ( “web crawler”) to locate and archive contents and activities (on conferences, policy documenting sites, registries, forum, blogs, etc.) of organizations currently present on the internet on publication bias

Task 3.2 - Systematic Review

  • Conducting a systematic review on the effectiveness of interventions to prevent and reduce publication bias, specifically with respect to prospective study registration and trial reporting.
    • Systematic review of the literature on barriers and facilitators of the implementation of such interventions
    • Identification of social, organizational and managerial factors that influence measures to prevent and reduce publication bias
    • Search includes multiple electronic databases of published literature as well as databases of conference abstracts, and grey literature

Task 3.3 - Interviews with journal editors and other key stakeholders

This task uses interviews to explore motivations and barriers of key stakeholders to counter publication bias. Sub-task (a) focuses on journal editors to adopt or reject a policy that requires trial registration as a prerequisite for publication of RCTs and (b) focuses on other relevant stakeholder groups. It involves the following steps:

  • Identification of journals which have and have not adopted a registration requirement for RCTs (a)
  • Development and testing of semi-structured interview guides (a+b)
  • Sampling of journals (a) and institutions and other key stakeholders (b) 

Interviews will be conducted as telephone and/or face-to-face interviews in individual or small group settings. A qualitative analysis with a summary of common themes regarding motivations and barriers will be carried out.

Task 3.4 - Institutional arrangements (part 1)

  • Provision of a framework for the discussion of impacts of interventions (change of practices).
  • Considering the societal framework which guides interactions between stakeholders, by analyzing the institutional context (e.g., legal, financing, community practices, state-of-the-art-routines of stakeholders)

General structure of the Work package 3

Selected for illustration: Task 3.1