fMRI Researchers need to read this article (if they haven’t already)

I have recently read “Guidelines for reporting an fMRI study” (, from NeuroImage 2008 by Russell A. Poldrack, Paul C. Fletcher, Richard N. Henson, Keith J. Worsley, Matthew Brett, and Thomas E. Nichols.  and I have to say the article is very comprehensive.

Many of the discussion points they bring up are becoming much more commonplace in fMRI but not fast enough.  I was also surprised to see that it was cited only 97 times (as of May 7, 2013 on Google Scholar).  Maybe there are many other guideline papers out there, but it seems as though this one would be a good practical one to cite.  I thought that maybe it would be because people didn’t know where to put it (and as such leave it out).  Something like a “We completed this manuscript using the defined checklist of PAPER” for example to cite it may be a bit awkward, but I think it could be used somewhere.

What I’m more surprised about is how this hasn’t been adopted by editors as a first pass look at a methods section or something that NeuroImage makes standard.  The authors do grant that adoption of these methods will lengthen manuscripts (and somewhat sizably depending on inclusion of information), but it is not unheard of having large supplements (for some papers) already.  And let’s face it, webpages are cheap to store information, especially given the fact some neuroimaging papers attach some form of data, even in the form of highly detailed figures (which immediately negates large supplements of texts, tables, and flowcharts of process).

Again – I don’t know how much it’s been adopted, just that I think it should.  Maybe put a nice badge on the paper saying “Hey – it’s as much info as you can get” about the process the authors used, but at least that’d be saying something other than “the reviewers thought you could maybe attempt (and fail) at trying to reproduce this”.   It’s not that authors don’t want people to reproduce their work (they don’t want people NOT reproducing it), but they’re not forced to have that level of scrutiny in the neuroimaging field, and I like the fact that this paper wants that to change.

Given the publication, more people have been releasing their data, with the helps of the 1000 connectomes project, NITRC, ABIDE, ADHD-200, and people like Michael Milham pushing people to share.  One thing of note though, most the data sharing has been from resting-state fMRI and not as much task-based (as the article is particularly describing), which I think should (and is likely to) change in the near future.

I guess all I want is more “zombie” editors in the sense they demand “give me your brains”!