About the Research Registry

Speaking at St. Catherine’s College, University of Oxford, at the IDEAL Collaboration Conference, 7th April 2016.

The Research Registry is a one-stop shop for registering all types of research studies, from ‘first in man’ case reports to observational/interventional studies to systematic reviews and meta-analyses.  The process is easy, simple and take less than five minutes.

Whilst the focus in the past has been on registering randomised controlled trials (RCTs), there has been tremendous growth in observational studies (case series, cohort, case-control, cross-sectional, etc), many of which are not registered.  Whilst some trial registries do allow for the registration of observational studies, only a small fraction are actually registered.  Nearly 80,000 observational studies were published in the period 1990-2000 across all fields, according to Thomson Reuters as reported in the Wall Street Journal.  In the following period, 2001-2011, this tripled to 263,557.  As of 1 January 2015, ClinicalTrials.gov listed a total of 34,212 studies classified as observational.  Hence less than 10% of observational studies are actually registered.

This is in part because the mandate and set-up of many of these registries was centred around randomised controlled trials and not a wide variety of research study designs.  Lack of awareness is an issue too.  Barriers include the practical difficulties of registering a study with some requiring the researcher to determine who their institutional account manager is, poor usability and charging high fees to register a study.  The World Medical Association’s Declaration of Helsinki 2013 provides a strong ethical mandate for registering all types of research studies, not just trials.

The data we collect is based on the WHO data set and includes some additional items.  Our aim is to adapt this resource to the needs of the users.  The Research Registry will not only register research prospectively (as is best practice), but also retrospectively.  This is because if a study is not prospectively registered, subsequently performed and then rejected by a journal and not published, no record of it will exist.  We wish to address this by allowing retrospective registration for all those studies not prospectively registered prior to recruitment of the first participant and which have not yet been published in a journal.  The research registry will record negative studies and ones where the outcome may be suboptimal.  It will this provide a comprehensive scientific and historical record.

For over a decade now as Founder, Managing and Executive Editor of the International Journal of Surgery as well as editorial and reviewer roles in many other journals, I have seen numerous research studies which are not registered in a publicly accessible database.  This practice has continued despite the change in the Declaration of Helsinki in 2013.  As academics, clinicians, scientists and as a scholarly community, we have a duty to help find the solution to this problem.  The Research Registry is open access, searchable and simple to use.  It has received an endorsement from the IDEAL Collaboration, the group working to improve the quality of surgical research and is a member of the Health Research Authority’s Research Transparency Forum. The Research Registry is also a supporter of the AllTrials Campaign.  I hope you will also support this initiative (read the full editorial here).

Yours sincerely,

Dr Riaz Agha BSc(Hons), MBBS, MSc Oxon, D.Phil (Oxon), FHEA, FRSA, FRSPH, FRCS(Ed), FRCS(Plast.)
Founder, Director and Editor-in-Chief, ResearchRegistry.com​
Founder and Director, IJS Publishing Group
Founder and Director, Harley Clinic