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Reporting Standards

ASHA encourages the use of relevant reporting guidelines to help promote the transparency and reproducibility of scientific research. Although the submission of completed checklists for the relevant guidelines (and flow diagram, if applicable) alongside your manuscript is not required, we do strongly encourage that clinical studies appearing in ASHA journals meet recognized standards for designing and implementing their studies and reporting the findings:

  • Articles reporting randomized clinical trials should follow the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT).
  • Nonrandomized clinical evaluations should follow the Transparent Reporting of Evaluations with Nonrandomized Designs (TREND) statement.
  • Studies of diagnostic accuracy should meet the Standards for Reporting of Diagnostic Accuracy (STARD).

Additional standards and checklists may be relevant depending on the type of study conducted. Therefore, authors are encouraged to review the Enhancing the QUAlity and Transparency of health Research (EQUATOR) information in the Reporting Standards section

EQUATOR Network

Enhancing the QUAlity and Transparency of health Research, better known as EQUATOR, is an international initiative with aims very much in alignment the goals of the ASHA Journals Program. The EQUATOR Network mission is to achieve accurate, complete, and transparent reporting of all health research studies to support research reproducibility and usefulness. To support EQUATOR’s goals, ASHA encourages the use of a relevant reporting guideline when writing any communication sciences and disorders research manuscript. It is hoped that by utilizing the appropriate reporting guidelines, the quality of research reports will be improved, enabling easier evaluation and better clinical applicability. 

We invite you to submit completed checklists for the relevant guidelines (and flow diagram if applicable) alongside your manuscript, indicating the manuscript page on which each checklist item is found. Editable checklists for reporting guidelines can be found on the EQUATOR Network site (www.equator-network.org ), which also gives general information on how to choose the correct guideline and why guidelines are important. Using a checklist helps to ensure you have used a guideline correctly. 

At minimum, your article should report the content addressed by each item of the identified checklist or state that the item was not considered in the study and, if relevant, the reason why not (for example, if you did not use blinding, your article should explain this). Meeting these basic reporting requirements will greatly improve the value of your manuscript, may facilitate/enhance the peer review process, and may enhance its chances for eventual publication. 

While checklists are not required, we encourage you to complete a checklist because this helps you to check that you have included all of the important information in your article, and because our editors and reviewers will also be asked to make use of reporting guidelines when peer reviewing submitted manuscripts. If the checklist indicates an item that you have not addressed in your manuscript, please either explain in the manuscript text why this information is not relevant to your study or add the relevant information.  

Common Study Types and Appropriate Guidelines

Some common study types and the appropriate guidelines are listed below. If you cannot find an appropriate guideline here, search the full EQUATOR database. You may need to use more than one guideline, depending on your research. For example, if you randomly assigned human participants to one of two interventions, then conducted unstructured interviews with each participant, you will need to use CONSORT, COREQ, and TIDIER together. To make sure you collect all of the relevant guidelines, check each major heading, even if you have already found a relevant guideline under a previous major heading.

If you are reporting a protocol

Use the SPIRIT guideline for the protocol of a clinical trial. Use the PRISMA-P guideline for the protocol of a systematic review.

If you are reporting a review of a section of the existing literature

Use the ENTREQ guideline for a review of studies that use descriptive data, such as unstructured interviews (qualitative data). Use the MOOSE guideline for a review of observational studies. The PRISMA guideline should be used only for systematic reviews.

If you are reporting on animal research

Use the ARRIVE (or the UK version) guideline for research on animals in a lab.

If you are reporting descriptive data (either alone or alongside quantitative analysis)

Use the COREQ guideline for reporting unstructured interviews and focus groups. Use the CARE guideline for reporting one case study or a series of case studies. Use the SRQR guideline for any other descriptive data (qualitative research).

If you are reporting research into diagnosis

Use the STARD guideline if you compared the accuracy of a diagnostic test with an established reference standard test. Use the REMARK guideline if you evaluated the prognostic value of a biomarker. Use the TRIPOD guideline if you developed, validated, or updated a prognostic or diagnostic prediction modelling tool.

If you are reporting research into an intervention or treatment on people

Use the TIDIER guideline to fully describe your intervention. Use the CHEERS guideline for an economic evaluation of the interventions.

If you are reporting research into an intervention, treatment, exposure, or protective factor on people

Use the CARE guideline for reporting one case study or a series of case studies. If you selected your participants before they received the intervention/exposure/etc. under study, AND You controlled which intervention/exposure/etc. they each received, AND You used a random allocation method to decide which intervention/exposure/etc. they each received (i.e., a randomised controlled trial) THEN, use the CONSORT guideline or one of its extensions. If you selected your participants after they received the intervention/exposure/etc. under study, OR You selected your participants before they received the intervention/exposure/etc. under study AND you did not control which intervention/exposure/etc. they received (they decided/their doctor decided/life just happened) (i.e., an observational study), THEN, use the STROBE guideline or one of its extensions. If you selected your participants before they received the intervention/exposure/etc. under study, AND If CARE, CONSORT, and STROBE are not applicable to your research AND You used a non-random way to decide which intervention/exposure/etc. your participants received, such as which hospital they went to or what their clinical symptoms were. (i.e., a non-randomised trial) THEN, use the TREND guideline.

Bias and Language

The ASHA Journals Program follows the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.) style, which reminds authors to be mindful of using language that is free of bias—or the suggestion thereof. ASHA’s official statement on language and terminology related to disability and differing abilities is as follows:

ASHA adheres to the style guide of the American Psychological Association (APA) in using person-first or identity-first language to describe attributes and diagnoses of individuals or groups of people. When there is a preference, ASHA honors that preference. For more information, see APA’s style guidelines on bias-free language.

Per APA style, “It is unacceptable to use constructions that might imply prejudicial beliefs or perpetuate biased assumptions against persons on the basis of age, disability, gender, participation in research, racial or ethnic identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or some combination of these or other personal factors (e.g., marital status, immigration status, religion)” (p. 131). 

However, when an author expresses a preference for identity-first language, ASHA honors that preference. Per APA style, “As always, good judgment is required—these are not rigid rules. If your writing reflects respect for your participants and your readers, and if you write with appropriate specificity and precision, you contribute to the goal of accurate, unbiased communication” (p. 131).

For many more details and examples on APA style recommendations for ensuring bias-free language—including entire sections on age, disability, gender, participation in research, racial and ethnic identity, sexual orientation and preference, socioeconomic status, and intersectionality—see APA’s online guide to bias-free language.

Bias Examples

Using the Term "Normal"

The use of “normal” to describe human beings is avoided because it suggests, incorrectly, that the other groups are somehow “abnormal.” Thus, ASHA rewords a phrase such as “normal participants” to “typical participants” to avoid describing a person as “normal.” In a similar way, we rephrase “normal-hearing participants” to “participants with normal hearing” to adhere to person-first language (which, in this instance, would be the most acceptable style).

APA discusses this in its section on false hierarchies in the chapter on bias-free language: “Compare groups with care. Bias occurs when authors use one group (often their own group) as the standard against which others are judged (e.g., using citizens of the United States as the standard without specifying why that group was chosen). For example, usage of “normal” may prompt readers to make the comparison with “abnormal,” thus stigmatizing individuals with differences” (p. 134).

What is normal, anyway?

The University of Kansas University Research & Training Center on Independent Living has this to say on the portrayal of disabled people and the question of what normal really is: “About one in five Americans has a disability. . . . People with disabilities, like all people, have strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures, and hopes and dreams. People with disabilities are the largest minority group in America, and the only group that any person can join at any time—through disease, traumatic event, or other reason. Like other minority groups, there is much diversity within the disability community, and people with disabilities don’t want to be stereotyped when their stories are told. . . . By following these guidelines, you can contribute to this momentum, portraying people with disabilities in an objective, authentic way” (from Guidelines: How to Write About People With Disabilities, 9th ed.).

For more information, see APA’s online General Principles for Reducing Bias.

Gender Breakdown of Participants

In listing the gender breakdown of a group of participants, authors should list not only the number of male participants but also the number of female participants, even if the number of female participants can be safely assumed. For example, “30 participants (10 men)” would be expanded to “30 participants (10 men, 20 women).” 

Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation

To ensure that your language is free of bias related to gender identity and sexual orientation, we recommend that you adhere to APA style principles that address this topic. As stated in the APA Publication Manual, “Gender offers an added layer of specificity when interpreting patterns or phenomena of human behavior. However, the terms related to gender and sex are often conflated, making precision essential to writing about gender and/or sex without bias. The language related to gender identity and sexual orientation has also evolved rapidly, and it is important to use the terms people use to describe themselves” (p. 138, Section 5.5, para 1).

For more information—including comprehensive subsections on gender versus sex, gender identity, the reporting of gender, transgender and gender-nonconforming people, sex assignment, gender and noun/pronoun usage, terms that imply binaries, and specific examples of bias-free language—see https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/bias-free-language/gender

 

"Deaf" as an Adjective

ASHA has been informed by members of the Deaf community that using “deaf” as an adjective to describe human participants (e.g., “deaf participants”) is acceptable and is not seen as biased by the Deaf community. Therefore, no changes would be made in this example. 

APA style uses “Deaf” as one very specific example in its overall discussion on eliminating bias related to disabilities: “The members of some groups of people with disabilities—effectively subcultures within the larger culture of disability—have particular ways of referring to themselves that they would prefer others to adopt. When you use the disability language choices made by groups of disabled individuals, you honor their preferences. For example, some Deaf individuals culturally prefer to be called “Deaf” (capitalized) rather than “people with hearing loss” or “people who are deaf” (Dunn & Andrews, 2015). Likewise, use the term “hard of hearing” rather than “hearing-impaired.” Honoring the preference of the group is not only a sign of professional awareness and respect for any disability group but also a way to offer solidarity” (p. 136).

The University of Kansas Research & Training Center on Independent Living, which publishes Guidelines: How to Write About People With Disabilities (a highly respected publication that is now in its 9th edition), says this:

Deaf refers to a degree of hearing loss that is significant enough to prevent understanding speech through the ear. Deaf people usually identify as the Deaf or Deaf community (with a capital D) rather than people who are deaf. Deaf people are part of a specific community made up of those who share a common culture and sign language. Hearing impairment, hearing loss, deafness, or hearing difficulties are generic terms used by some individuals to indicate any degree of hearing loss, from mild to profound, although some perceive the term hearing impaired as negative. Members of the Deaf community do not use any of these terms as they are medically defined. Hard of hearing refers to those with a mild to moderate hearing loss who may use technology for amplification. A person who has hearing difficulties may have speech difficulties, too, but deafness does not affect mental abilities. Say deaf woman or hard of hearing boy. People who have some degree of hearing and vision loss prefer the term Deaf-Blind. Never use deaf and dumb or deaf mute.

For more information on writing about individuals in the Deaf community, see APA’s online guide to disability language.

Disability Language: General Overview

Per APA style, “The members of some groups of people with disabilities—effectively subcultures within the larger culture of disability—have particular ways of referring to themselves that they would prefer others to adopt. When you use the disability language choices made by groups of disabled individuals, you honor their preferences.”

But, as we all know, language and terminology are constantly changing. And it’s up to us, as authors and publishers, to stay in tune with the preferred language and terminology of the times. “The language to use where disability is concerned is evolving,” APA style explains. “The overall principle for using disability language is to maintain the integrity (worth and dignity) of all individuals as human beings. Authors who write about disability are encouraged to use terms and descriptions that both honor and explain person-first and identity-first perspectives. Language should be selected with the understanding that the expressed preference of people with disabilities regarding identification supersedes matters of style” (APA Publication Manual, 2020, p. 136).

For more information, see APA’s online guide to disability language.

Language Services

Before submitting a manuscript to an ASHA journal, authors whose first language is not English may choose to have their manuscript professionally edited. Such editing will check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation; improve clarity and word choice; and ensure that the tone and style is appropriate for the journal. Below is a list of organizations we partner with for language services.

ASHA author services, powered by Editage, are designed to support authors with not only end-to-end pre-submission manuscript preparation (including language services for non-native English speakers), but also post-publication research communication. All the author support services are available at a subsidized cost to ASHA authors. Authors submitting their manuscripts to journals published by ASHA will also have free access to a wealth of educational resources powered by Editage Insights, the author education arm of Editage.

Learn more by selecting the Editage logo above to go to the ASHA Author Services page, powered by Editage.