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Raising the bar on the ethical standards of acupuncture research
  1. David Carr
  1. Correspondence to Dr David Carr, Institute of Medical and Biomedical Education, St George's, University of London, Cranmer Terrace, London SW17 0RE, UK; davidcarr{at}

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Seeking prospective ethical approval from an institutional review board is an essential first step in both basic science and clinical acupuncture research. However, ethical responsibility extends well beyond this preliminary stage, covering both the conduct and reporting of research. The aim of this editorial is to define the minimum ethical standards required for publication in Acupuncture in Medicine and to highlight the two aspects with the poorest compliance among recently submitted articles—namely, prospective registration of clinical trials and detailed reporting of laboratory animal welfare.

It has been over a decade since the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) announced, in September 2004, that ICMJE-listed journals (including Acupuncture in Medicine and most mainstream biomedical publications) should not consider publishing clinical trials that started after 1 July 2005 unless they had prospective registration at or before the time of first patient enrolment.1 The ICMJE uses the WHO definition of a clinical trial, which is widely encompassing and includes “any research study that prospectively assigns human participants or groups of humans to one or more health-related interventions to evaluate the effects on health outcomes” ( A current list of acceptable clinical trials registries is available on the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform.

A comprehensive overview of the rationale behind clinical trial registration is …

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