We have previously discussed that there are significant efforts to make results of all clinical trials public. And there are already very good examples of organizations reporting most or all of their trial outcomes. However, this recent report suggests that the progress is slower than wanted and shows surprising geographical differences.
Why are trials registered and results not disclosed? We dare to suggest that this is largely because of the lack of awareness and insufficiently defined roles and responsibilities in the academic environment conducting this research. Those who do the trial registration may have no access to and no authority to decide or influence a decision to disclose the results. And, on the other side, those who have the power and the right to decide may not be fully familiar with the details of trial registration and the obligations to disclose the results.
It is important to note that, in the original report, recommendations are at the organizational level and aim at universities, national medicines regulators and national research funders signing up a WHO Joint Statement, as well as national governments that put in place systems to monitor whether clinical trials conducted within their jurisdiction are posting summaries of the results, etc.
Based on the above mentioned report, it is possible and indeed likely that ignoring the scientist’s perspective is the cause of insufficient disclosure of results. There should be some tools developed and made available for scientists to navigate in this complex environment with a large and steadily increasing number of rules and regulations that scientists have to be aware of and comply with. We believe that, at least for nonclinical biomedical research, this gap may be addressed by the quality system that is being developed by EQIPD.