Comment on:

The following comment refers to this/these guideline(s)

Guideline 12


Researchers document all information relevant to the production of a research result as clearly as is required by and is appropriate for the relevant subject area to allow the result to be reviewed and assessed. In general, this also includes documenting individual results that do not support the research hypothesis. The selection of results must be avoided. Where subject-specific recommendations exist for review and assessment, researchers create documentation in accordance with these guidelines. If the documentation does not satisfy these requirements, the constraints and the reasons for them are clearly explained. Documentation and research results must not be manipulated; they are protected as effectively as possible against manipulation.


An important basis for enabling replication is to make available the information necessary to understand the research (including the research data used or generated, the methodological, evaluation and analytical steps taken, and, if relevant, the development of the hypothesis), to ensure that citations are clear, and, as far as possible, to enable third parties to access this information. Where research software is being developed, the source code is documented.

Documentation in the life sciences

In the life sciences, an increasing quantity of data is generated that is exclusively available in digital form. For this reason, the use of electronic documentation facilities such as electronic laboratory notebooks is recommended. Data security and protection from manipulation must be ensured when using electronic documentation. The change history should be verifiable based on file versioning.

Experimental approaches in the life sciences are complex: here, the description of experimental conditions, observations and the accompanying parameters should be as complete as possible, but details of the analysis and data evaluation steps (metadata, pipeline, workflow, script language) are likewise required in order to ensure that the results are verifiable and comparable. In connection with animal studies, for example, the ARRIVE guidelines cover some of these aspects and should be taken into account. A collection of recommendations going beyond this for the documentation of various life science research approaches is to be found in the EQUATOR Network.

Many of the measuring devices used in the life sciences contain integrated software that is often not freely available. This means that data processing steps are often not fully verifiable. In order to ensure comparability of the data, information about the integrated software should be included in the description of the measurement data. Freely available software solutions should be used wherever possible.

When using software tools and data sets, always state the version number and, where applicable, the date of access.

When preparing publications, particular attention should be paid to the processing and editing of illustrations according to good research practice, especially when these are used for the summary and comparative visual presentation of results (expression analyses, etc.). In publications, the interpretation of data sets also requires particular care as does the description of the necessary background information.

The comment belongs to the following categories:

GL12 (Life sciences)