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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Ethics reporting practices in clinical research publications: A review of four Indian journals

Mahesh N Belhekar, Supriya S Bhalerao, Renuka P Munshi
Perspectives in Clinical Research 2014, 5 (3): 129-33
24987584

BACKGROUND: Manuscript authors of scientific journals are expected to report if their studies were conducted according to international and national ethical guidelines and inform readers regarding ethics approval and informed consent obtained from participants and/or their legally acceptable representative/s. In the present study we assessed the reporting practices of ethics approval and informed consent (assent in case of pediatric studies) in four Indian journals.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Original research articles published over a period of 4 years (2009-2012) in four major national clinical journals, viz. Journal of Association of Physicians of India (JAPI), Indian Journal of Surgery (IJS), Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology of India (JOGI), and Indian Journal of Orthopedics (IJO) were reviewed with regard to documentation of ethics approval and written informed consent and assent in case of pediatric participants.

RESULTS: We reviewed 673 research articles and found that, overall ethical approval was mentioned in 163 (24.2%) and informed consent or assent was mentioned in 179 (26.5%) articles in all four journals. Individually we found, in JAPI of the 174 manuscripts reviewed, 74 (42.5%) reported having obtained approval from the ethics committee and 68 (39.1%) reported taking written informed consent from participants. In IJS of 123 manuscripts, 18 (14.6%) reported ethics committee approval and 20 (16.2%) reported informed consent from participants. In JOGI of 152 manuscripts, 21 (13.8%) reported ethics committee approval while 49 (32.2%) reported informed consent from participants. In IJO, of 224 manuscripts, 50 (22.3%) reported ethics committee approval and 42 (18.7%) reported obtaining informed consent.

CONCLUSION: Majority of the publications did not provide information regarding compliance to ethical guidelines in spite of the availability of various guidelines. Thus, there is a need for awareness and training on bioethics for authors, reviewers, and editors of biomedical journals.

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