Poor replication of in vivo and in vitro biomedical studies has been reported and this can be linked in many cases to insufficient descriptions of the experimental and analytical details. Thus, the aim of this study by Malcolm Macleod and the NPQIP Collaborative group was to determine whether the implementation of checklists by NPG Journals, which need to be completed by authors at the time of manuscript acceptance for submissions, has been associated with improved reporting of measures that might reduce the risk of bias: This analysis was based on 443 NPG publications (219 before and 224 after May 2013). Importantly, in order to investigate whether any observed changes in quality was simply due to a general trend occurring across all journals, the authors matched each included NPG publication with a publication in a similar subject area published at around the same time by a different publisher.
The authors found that the number of NPG publications meeting all relevant Landis 4 criteria (randomisation, blinding, sample size calculation, exclusions) increased from 0/203 prior to May 2013 to 31/181 (16.4%) after. There was no change in the proportion of non-NPG publications meeting all relevant Landis 4 criteria (1/164 before, 1/189 after). Overall, the authors identified a substantial improvement in the reporting of risks of bias in in vivo research in NPG journals following a change in editorial policy, to a level that has not been previously observed. However, the authors also state that there remain opportunities for further improvement and measures and mandatory author checklists need to be supplemented by other approaches.