The EQUATOR (Enhancing the QUAlity and Transparency Of health Research) Network is an international initiative aimed at promoting transparent and accurate reporting of health research studies to enhance the value and reliability of medical research literature. The EQUATOR Network was established with the goals of raising awareness of the importance of good reporting of research, assisting in the development, dissemination and implementation of reporting guidelines for different types of study designs, monitoring the status of the quality of reporting of research studies in the health sciences literature, and conducting research relating to issues that impact the quality of reporting of health research studies. The Network acts as an “umbrella” organisation, bringing together developers of reporting guidelines, medical journal editors and peer reviewers, research funding bodies, and other key stakeholders with a mutual interest in improving the quality of research publications and research itself.
The EQUATOR Network grew out as part of spin-off projects generated after the work initiated by the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials group and other guideline development groups to alleviate the problems arising from inadequate reporting of randomized controlled trials and other types of health research studies. The EQUATOR project began in March 2006 as part of a one-year project funded by the UK National Health Service (NHS). The initial goals of this project were to map all the activities aimed at developing and disseminating guidelines to improve the quality of reporting of health research studies, identifying key stakeholders engaged in these activities and networking with them. The first project of the EQUATOR Network was to: (1) identify all available guidelines for reporting health research studies and (2) survey the authors of these guidelines to gather details about their development methodology, dissemination and implementation strategies, and problems encountered during those processes.
The first international working meeting of the EQUATOR Network took place in Oxford on May–June 2006 and was attended by 27 participants from 10 countries. Participants in this meeting were reporting guidelines developers, journal editors, peer reviewers, medical writers and research funders. The meeting served as a venue to exchange experiences among participants in developing, using and implementing reporting guidelines and prioritize the main activities that were necessary for the successful start of the EQUATOR Network's efforts.
The EQUATOR Network was formally launched on 26 June 2008 at the Royal Society of Medicine in London, UK. The event also hosted the 1st EQUATOR Annual Lecture presented by Sir Iain Chalmers. Since then, the EQUATOR Network has held annual lectures that have been held in Vancouver (Canada) in 2009, Oxford (UK) in 2010, Bristol (UK) in 2011, and Freiburg (Germany) in 2012.
The EQUATOR Network Library
The EQUATOR Network developed and maintains a digital library that provides a collection of publications related to reporting guidelines on scientific writing, empirical evidence supporting or refuting the inclusion of crucial items in reporting guidelines, evaluations of the quality of reporting, publication ethics and educational materials and tools for editors, peer reviewers and researchers. Comprehensive lists of reporting guidelines for the following study types are available in the EQUATOR Network library:
- Experimental studies
- Observational studies
- Diagnostic accuracy studies
- Biospecimen reporting
- Reliability and agreement studies
- Systematic reviews
- Qualitative research
- Mixed methods studies
- Economic evaluations
- Quality improvement studies
Additional guidelines are available for practical issues relevant to the reporting of health research:
- Reporting data
- Statistical methods and analyses
- Guidance on scientific writing
- Industry sponsored research
- Research ethics, publication ethics and good practice guidelines
- Simera, I; Moher, D; Hirst, A; Hoey, J; Schulz, KF; Altman, DG (2010). "Transparent and accurate reporting increases reliability, utility, and impact of your research: reporting guidelines and the EQUATOR Network". BMC medicine 8: 24. doi:10.1186/1741-7015-8-24. PMC 2874506. PMID 20420659.
- Simera, I.; Moher, D.; Hoey, J.; Schulz, K. F.; Altman, D. G. (2010). "A catalogue of reporting guidelines for health research". European Journal of Clinical Investigation 40 (1): 35–53. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2362.2009.02234.x. PMID 20055895.
- Simera, I; Altman, DG (October 2009). "Writing a research article that is "fit for purpose": EQUATOR Network and reporting guidelines". Evidence-based medicine 14 (5): 132–4. doi:10.1136/ebm.14.5.132. PMID 19794009.
- Simera, I; Altman, DG; Moher, D; Schulz, KF; Hoey, J (24 June 2008). "Guidelines for reporting health research: the EQUATOR network's survey of guideline authors". PLoS medicine 5 (6): e139. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050139. PMID 18578566. Retrieved 28 July 2013.