An e-mail survey identified unpublished studies for systematic reviews.

TitleAn e-mail survey identified unpublished studies for systematic reviews.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsReveiz L, Cardona AF, Ospina EG, de Agular S
JournalJournal of clinical epidemiology
Date Published2006 Jul
KeywordsCross-Sectional Studies; Electronic Mail; Evidence-Based Medicine; Humans; Information Storage and Retrieval; MEDLINE; Publishing; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Research Design

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: A large number of trials remain difficult to locate or unpublished for systematic reviews. The objective of this article was to determine the usefulness of making e-mail contact with authors of clinical trials and literature reviews found in MEDLINE to identify unpublished or difficult to locate Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs).

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A structured search for detecting RCTs in MEDLINE was made from January 1999 to June 2003; a questionnaire was sent to a random sample of 525 author's mails. Those RCTs obtained were sought in MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register, LILACS, and ongoing registers.

RESULTS: 40 (7.6%) replies were received; 10 previously undescribed and unpublished RCTs and 21 unregistered ongoing RCTs were found. The most frequently given reasons for not publishing were: lack of time for finalizing the statistical analysis and preparing the manuscript, contractual obligations with the pharmaceutical industry, methodologic errors in designing, and editorial rejection.

CONCLUSIONS: Using the e-mails of authors detected by the search in electronic databases could contribute toward detecting potentially relevant ongoing or unpublished RCTs enabling rapid, straightforward, low-cost systematic review; in addition, the results of this study support the need of universal registration of all studies at their inception.

Alternate JournalJ Clin Epidemiol