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Short email with attachment versus long email without attachment when contacting authors to request unpublished data for a systematic review: a nested randomised trial

Godolphin, Peter J.; Bath, Philip M.; Montgomery, Alan A.

Authors

Peter J. Godolphin

PHILIP BATH philip.bath@nottingham.ac.uk
Stroke Association Professor of Stroke Medicine

ALAN MONTGOMERY ALAN.MONTGOMERY@NOTTINGHAM.AC.UK
Director, nottingham Clinical Trials Unit



Abstract

Objective: Systematic reviews often rely on the acquisition of unpublished analyses or data. We carried out a nested randomised trial comparing two different approaches for contacting authors to request additional data for a systematic review.
Participants: Participants were authors of published reports of prevention or treatment trials in stroke in which there was central adjudication of events. A primary and secondary research active author were selected as contacts for each trial.
Interventions: Authors were randomised to be sent either a short email with a protocol of the systematic review attached (“Short”), or a longer email that contained detailed information and without the protocol attached (“Long”). A maximum of two emails were sent to each author to obtain a response. The unit of analysis was trial, accounting for clustering by author.
Primary and secondary outcome measures: The primary outcome was whether a response was received from authors. Secondary outcomes included time to response, number of reminders needed before a response was received and whether authors agreed to collaborate.
Results: 88 trials with 76 primary authors were identified in the systematic review, and of these, 36 authors were randomised to Short [trials=45], and 40 to Long [trials=43]. Responses were received for 69 trials. There was no evidence of a difference in response rate between trial arms (Short vs Long, odds ratio 1.10, 95% C.I: [0.36, 3.33]). There was no evidence of a difference in time to response between trial arms (Short vs Long, hazard ratio 0.91, 95% C.I: [0.55, 1.51]). In total, 27% of authors responded within a day and 22% of authors never responded.
Conclusions: There was no evidence to suggest that email format had an impact on the number of responses received when acquiring data for a systematic review involving stroke trials, or the time taken to receive these responses.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2019-05
Journal BMJ Open
Electronic ISSN 2044-6055
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Issue 1
Article Number e25273
APA6 Citation Godolphin, P. J., Bath, P. M., & Montgomery, A. A. (2019). Short email with attachment versus long email without attachment when contacting authors to request unpublished data for a systematic review: a nested randomised trial. BMJ Open, 9(1), https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2018-025273
DOI https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2018-025273
Publisher URL https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/9/1/e025273

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