The goal of universal registration of clinical trials has been long in gestation, but it now looks as if a healthy delivery is not far off.
On 4th May, the World Health Organization launched its clinical trial search portal. This website acts as a single point of access to information about ongoing and completed trials worldwide, and allows allows researchers, clinicians, and members of the public to freely search across multiple registries to find studies relevant to them. Only registries fulfilling the World Health Organization’s agreed standards are included in the portal; at present, the Australian Clinical Trials Registry, ClinicalTrials.gov and the International Standard Randomized Controlled Trial Number Register are primary data providers.
The portal is an essential step forward, enabling a single search to identify all properly registered trials worldwide. However, not all registries meet WHO’s criteria. At PLoS we encourage all researchers to register their trials before patient recruitment has begun in one of the primary or partner registries listed by WHO, so that full and accurate information on a trial is made public before the study starts.
The policy of PLoS journals that publish trial reports is that all trials started after 1 July 2005 must be registered before patient recruitment begins, or they will not be considered for publication; for trials started before 1 July 2005, registration must be complete before submission to our journals.