Reporting Guidelines to Increase the Reproducibility and Comparability of Research on Microplastics

It all started with one tweet! Our very own Board Member, Win Cowger, tweeted out a message soliciting the opportunity to contribute to a paper on Reporting Guidelines for increasing reproducibility and comparability on research pertaining to microplastics. Twenty three people, including the Moore Institute’s Executive Director, from around the world responded to this call for action.

Here is the abstract describing the results:

The ubiquitous pollution of the environment with microplastics – a diverse suite of contaminants – is of growing concern for science and currently receives considerable public, political, and academic attention. The potential impact of microplastics in the environment has prompted a great deal of research in recent years. Many diverse methods have been developed to answer different questions about microplastic pollution, from sources, transport, and fate in the environment, and about effects on humans and wildlife. These methods are often insufficiently described, making studies neither comparable nor reproducible. The proliferation of new microplastic investigations and cross-study syntheses to answer larger scale questions are hampered. We – a diverse group of 23 researchers – think these issues can begin to be overcome through the adoption of a set of reporting guidelines. This collaboration was created using an open science framework that we detail for future use. Here, we suggest harmonized reporting guidelines for microplastic studies in environmental and laboratory settings through all steps of a typical study, including best practices for reporting materials, quality assurance/quality control, data, field sampling, sample preparation, microplastic identification, microplastic categorization, microplastic quantification, and considerations for toxicology studies. We developed three easy to use documents – a detailed document, a checklist, and a mind map – that can be used to reference the reporting guidelines quickly. We intend that these reporting guidelines support the annotation, dissemination, interpretation, reviewing, and synthesis of microplastic research. Through open access licensing (CC BY 4.0), these documents aim to increase the validity, reproducibility, and comparability of studies in this field for the benefit of the global community.

You can download a copy of this paper from Research Gate.

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