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Open Access Highly Accessed Editorial

Preparing raw clinical data for publication: guidance for journal editors, authors, and peer reviewers

Iain Hrynaszkiewicz1*, Melissa L Norton1, Andrew J Vickers2 and Douglas G Altman3

Author Affiliations

1 BioMed Central, 236 Gray's Inn Road, London WC1X 8HL, UK

2 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Avenue, NY, NY 10021, USA

3 Centre for Statistics in Medicine, University of Oxford, Wolfson College Annexe, Oxford OX2 6UD, UK

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Trials 2010, 11:9  doi:10.1186/1745-6215-11-9

Published: 29 January 2010

Abstract

In recognition of the benefits of transparent reporting, many peer-reviewed journals require that their authors be prepared to share their raw, unprocessed data with other scientists and/or state the availability of raw data in published articles. But little information on how data should be prepared for publication - or sharing - has emerged. In clinical research patient privacy and consent for use of personal health information are key considerations, but agreed-upon definitions of what constitutes anonymised patient information do not appear to have been established. We aim to address this issue by providing practical guidance for those involved in the publication process, by proposing a minimum standard for de-identifying datasets for the purposes of publication in a peer-reviewed biomedical journal, or sharing with other researchers. Basic advice on file preparation is provided along with procedural guidance on prospective and retrospective publication of raw data, with an emphasis on randomised controlled trials.

In order to encourage its wide dissemination this article is freely accessible on the BMJ and Trials journal web sites.