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Short email with attachment versus long email without attachment when contacting authors to request unpublished data for a systematic review: a nested randomised trial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, PJ; Bath, PM; Montgomery, AA; (2019) Short email with attachment versus long email without attachment when contacting authors to request unpublished data for a systematic review: a nested randomised trial.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) , Article e025273. 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-025273. Green open access

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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Objective Systematic reviews often rely on the acquisition of unpublished analyses or data.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, OR 1.10, 95%CI 0.36 to 3.33). There was no evidence of a difference in time to response between trial arms (Short vs Long, HR 0.91, 95%CI 0.55 to 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.

Type: Article
Title: Short email with attachment versus long email without attachment when contacting authors to request unpublished data for a systematic review: a nested randomised trial
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-025273
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2018-025273
Language: English
Additional information: © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2019. Re-use permitted under CC BY. Published by BMJ. This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Inst of Clinical Trials and Methodology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Inst of Clinical Trials and Methodology > MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10083385
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