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ISRCTN call for ideas: How can we improve our clinical trial registry?

In this guest blog, Marc Taylor, Chair of the ISRCTN clinical trial registry, explains how the registry actively contacts researchers to remind them to update trial data and report study results, and has worked to make trial registration and reporting easier for users. ISRCTN is currently seeking feedback on how to further improve its services.

The ISRCTN clinical trial registry is committed to promoting transparency.

To encourage researchers to keep the record accurate and make results public, ISRCTN routinely sends out reminders. Reminders are sent when the record suggests action has been missed.

Since 2016, the registry has prompted research teams to do better by reminding them at the following milestones when they should update the study record:

  • Nine months before the expected end of recruitment, a prompt to make the protocol available;

  • One month after the planned end of recruitment, a prompt to report the end date;

  • One year after the planned overall end date, a prompt to

  • update the end date if the trial has not ended, or to

  • report where to find either a publication or a basic summary of results;

  • Six months after the planned publication date, a prompt to

  • update the end date if the trial has not ended, or to

  • report where to find either a publication or a basic summary of results.

  • If the study record has not been updated for two years and there is no publication or summary of results, to ask what has happened.

The ISRCTN registry also promotes transparency in other ways:

  • It has implemented the latest international standards for the network of clinical trials registries coordinated by the World Health Organization.

  • It has aligned its approach to licensing with CC-BY.

  • It encourages unrestricted use of metadata derived from study records.

  • The staff of the registry are working to make registration and reporting easy to follow.

  • Its staff are developing the search facility to make it easy to find out the status of studies, and whether findings have been reported.

We invite practical suggestions to make the ISRCTN registry easier to use – whether for research teams or for sponsors and funders.

Please send your feedback to us at

The ISRCTN registry of health research is managed and published by BioMed Central on behalf of ISRCTN, a not-for-profit company registered in the United Kingdom. The ISRCTN registry is funded from fees for registering studies. It is independent of government, industry and research institutions.

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