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Evolution of methodology and reporting of emergency medicine quantitative research over a 20-year period
  1. Jesse Smith1,
  2. Patrick Date1,
  3. William Spencer1,
  4. Erik de Tonnerre1,
  5. David McDonald Taylor1,2
  1. 1 Emergency Department, Austin Hospital, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2 Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Professor David McDonald Taylor, Emergency, Austin Health, Heidelberg, VIC 3084, Australia; david.taylor{at}


Objective We aimed to determine trends over time in article origin, and article and methodology characteristics.

Method We examined original research articles published every fifth year over a 20-year period (1997–2017) in six emergency medicine (EM) journals (Ann Emerg Med, Acad Emerg Med, Eur J Emerg Med, Emerg Med J, Am J Emerg Med, Emerg Med Australas). Explicit data extraction of 21 article characteristics was undertaken. These included regional contributions, specific article items and research methodology.

Results 2152 articles were included. Over the study period, the proportional contributions from the USA and the UK steadily fell while those from Australasia, Europe and ‘other’ countries increased (p<0.001). All specific article items increased (p<0.01). Institutional Review Board/Ethics Committee approval and conflicts of interest were almost universal by 2017. There were substantial increases in the reporting of keywords and authorship contributions. The median (IQR) number of authors increased from 4 (2) in 1997 to 6 (3) in 2017 (p<0.001) and the proportion of female first authors increased from 24.3% to 34.2% (p<0.01). Multicentre and international collaborations, consecutive sampling, sample size calculations, inferential biostatistics and the reporting of CIs and p values all increased (p<0.001). There were decreases in the use of convenience sampling and blinding (p<0.001). The median (IQR) study sample size increased from 148 (470) to 349 (2225) (p<0.001).

Conclusion Trends over time are apparent within the EM research literature. The dominance in contributions from the US and UK is being challenged. There is more reporting of research accountability and greater rigour in both research methodology and results presentation.

  • emergency department
  • research
  • clinical

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  • Contributors All authors contributed to the design of the study and its protocol. JS and DMT undertook data collection. All authors participated in collation of the data and its interpretation. DMT undertook the statistical analysis and supervised the study overall. All authors contributed to development of the manuscript and all authors have approved the final version.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All study data are available upon reasonable request from the corresponding author and may be reused as required.

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