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An Audit of journals following the ICMJE recommendations

"Data-sharing recommendations in biomedical journals and Randomized Controlled Trials: an audit of journals following the ICMJE recommendations" is the title of our newly published paper in BMJ Open. (

What did we do ? We had a look at member journals and journals that claim to follow the recommendations of the International Committee for Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). We checked whether or not they are implementing their new policy about data-sharing statements in their author instructions and in the published Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs).

What did we learn ? Most of the member journals had an explicit data-sharing policy on their website. In RCTs published in these journals, almost all of them had a data-sharing statements included and most of them expressed intention to share individual patient data. In contrast to this, the biggest part of ICMJE-affiliated journals only merely referred to the ICMJE recommendations for data-sharing. In RCTs published in affiliated journals with an explicit data-sharing policy, data-sharing statements were rare and intentions to share data were even lower.

What’s the conclusion ? The implementation of the policy was of concern for affiliated journals. We recommend the conduct of continuous audits of medical journal data-sharing policies in the future. Also, we would be excited to see more efforts coming from the ICMJE overseeing the implantation of their recommendations.

What's next ? With over 5500 journal claiming to follow their recommendations, journals with poor editorial practices could present affiliation with the committee as an endorsement of a sort of quality label in biomedical journals, while this is not the case. This is why we will soon suggest improvements for the current ICMJE data-sharing difficulty.

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