New framework put forth to make reporting in life sciences transparent and standard

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New framework put forth to make reporting in life sciences transparent and standard

Reporting guidelines for manuscript publication are designed to improve the transparency and quality of research. Moreover, the guidelines address issues around the reproducibility and replicability of research.

Several such guidelines exist in the life sciences, such as ARRIVE (which pertains to animal research) and STRANGE (which includes guidelines specifically for animal behavior research). Now a group of members from eLife, Wiley, PLOS, the Center for Open Science, the University of Edinburgh, Nature Portfolio, Cell Press, and Science have come together to put forth the MDAR framework – Materials, Design, Analysis, Reporting.  

The MDAR framework sets best practice recommendations and requirements in four domains of life sciences research, i.e. materials, design, analysis, and reporting. It aims to be broad rather than deep to offer flexibility of application and standardization across journals. The journals can focus only on the guidelines that pertain to their scope. On the other hand, authors can prepare their manuscript following the MDAR guidelines irrespective of the journal they are targeting.  

The team began working on the framework three years back. Elaborating on the process underlying the new framework, Malcolm Macleod, a neurology professor at the University of Edinburgh and a member of the working group, said: “We started off from the Center for Open Science TOP framework for reporting and essentially decided that we wanted to have a system which was a framework rather than a straightjacket.”

Along with the framework is a checklist for authors, peer reviewers, and journals, which they can choose to use. Over 13 journals piloted the checklist following which the group made revisions based on feedback. Moreover, the framework may undergo further changes from time to time to help it stay relevant to the users, stated Malcolm.


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Published on: May 24, 2021

Sneha’s interest in the communication of research led her to her current role of developing and designing content for researchers and authors.
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