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J Gen Intern Med. 2014 Dec;29 Suppl 4:820-4. doi: 10.1007/s11606-014-3037-0.

Publishing protocols for partnered research.

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Houston VA HSR&D Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety, Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, Houston, TX, USA,


Published scientific protocols are advocated as a means of controlling bias in research reporting. Indeed, many journals require a study protocol with manuscript submission. However, publishing protocols of partnered research (PPR) can be challenging in light of the research model's dynamic nature, especially as no current reporting standards exist. Nevertheless, as these protocols become more prevalent, a priori documentation of methods in partnered research studies becomes increasingly important. Using as illustration a suite of studies aimed at improving coordination and communication in the primary care setting, we sought to identify challenges in publishing PPR relative to traditional designs, present alternative solutions to PPR publication, and propose an initial checklist of content to be included in protocols of partnered research. Challenges to publishing PPR include reporting details of research components intended to be co-created with operational partners, changes to sampling and entry strategy, and alignment of scientific and operational goals. Proposed solutions include emulating reporting standards of qualitative research, participatory action research, and adaptive trial designs, as well as embracing technological tools that facilitate publishing adaptive protocols, with version histories that are able to be updated as major protocol changes occur. Finally, we present a proposed checklist of reporting elements for partnered research protocols.

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