Table 4

Distribution of reviewer comments—by decision about acceptance

Mean percentage of comments on a manuscript (95% CI)*
Type of commentRejected (N=150)Accepted (N=96)p Value
Importance
 1. Research question not clinically relevant7.8 (4.5 to 11.1)1.6 (0.0 to 3.5)0.002
Originality
 2. Lack of novelty8.3 (4.9 to 11.6)2.6 (0.6 to 4.7)0.008
Background and rationale
 3. Incorrect background information20.3 (15.8 to 24.8)18.0 (12.7 to 23.3)0.491
 4. Poor justification for conducting study2.4 (0.8 to 4.1)4.9 (1.9 to 7.9)0.168
Methods
 5. Poor experimental design68.6 (63.3 to 73.9)50.5 (42.8 to 58.2)<0.001
 6. Methods inadequately reported57.7 (51.8 to 63.6)52.7 (45.5 to 59.9)0.306
 7. Statistical analysis methods inappropriate21.8 (16.7 to 27.0)20.8 (15.1 to 26.4)0.793
Results
 8. Study outcome data incomplete62.4 (56.4 to 68.5)68.2 (61.3 to 75.1)0.178
 9. Flow of participants through study unclear8.2 (4.8 to 11.5)4.8 (2.3 to 7.2)0.110
Discussion and conclusion
 10. Meaning results inadequately discussed45.5 (39.1 to 51.9)53.1 (45.6 to 60.6)0.092
 11. Study insufficiently related to literature10.5 (7.1 to 14.0)18.6 (13.0 to 24.2)0.041
 12. Limitations not sufficiently discussed16.0 (12.3 to 19.8)18.3 (12.8 to 23.8)0.454
 13. Conclusions inappropriate23.1 (17.9 to 28.3)21.8 (15.4 to 28.2)0.755
Abstract
 14. Abstract does not correctly reflect paper15.7 (12.0 to 19.4)16.1 (11.2 to 21.1)0.891
 15. Discrepancies between the abstract and the main text1.5 (0.2 to 2.8)0.8 (0.0 to 1.9)0.419
References
 16. References missing/irrelevant references used11.6 (8.0 to 15.2)11.6 (6.6 to 16.7)0.990
 17. Errors in reference citation2.7 (1.0 to 4.4)2.5 (0.6 to 4.3)0.843
Presentation
 18. Title not representative of study6.2 (3.1 to 9.2)2.9 (0.8 to 4.9)0.080
 19. Poor writing37.5 (31.6 to 43.3)40.0 (32.7 to 47.4)0.555
 20. Inaccurate tables or figures36.7 (31.5 to 41.9)43.3 (36.3 to 50.2)0.121
Ethics
 21. Ethics committee approval not clear1.8 (0.4 to 3.2)2.1 (0.3 to 3.8)0.839
 22. Other ethical issues related to study4.1 (1.5 to 6.7)1.6 (0.1 to 3.2)0.115
Trial registration, protocol, CONSORT
 23. Registration/protocol/CONSORT missing3.0 (1.2 to 4.9)2.0 (0.3 to 3.8)0.435
 24. Deviations from registry or protocol2.2 (0.6 to 3.9)0.8 (0.0 to 2.2)0.217
COI
 25. Bias by author COIs/contribution funder unclear3.7 (1.7 to 5.6)1.6 (0.1 to 3.2)0.116
 26. Systematic bias or spin in favour of sponsor1.1 (0.1 to 2.1)0.0 (0.0 to 0.9)0.054
  • *The mean percentage of comments on a manuscript is controlled for the journal to which a manuscript was submitted.

  • COI, conflicts of interest; N, number of submitted manuscripts.