EV-Checklist – a fast documentation tool for enhancing transparency and accessibility in extracellular vesicle research

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are tiny particles released by cells that play a crucial role in cell communication and have significant potential in medical research. Over the past decade, the study of EVs has rapidly grown, leading to important discoveries and new research directions. However, this growth has also highlighted the need for standardization in how EV studies are reported.

To address this, community-driven guidelines like the MISEV (Minimal Information for Studies of Extracellular Vesicles) have been established. These guidelines, updated in 2014, 2018, and 2023, aim to ensure that EV research is conducted and reported with high experimental rigor and transparency. Despite these efforts, many researchers find the guidelines complex and time-consuming, leading to inconsistent or incomplete documentation.

To overcome these challenges, a new digital tool called the EV-Checklist has been developed by researchers at the Paracelsus Medical University. The EV-Checklist is designed to simplify the documentation process for EV research, making it easier for researchers to adhere to the necessary standards during manuscript submission. This tool helps ensure that studies are clear and transparent for reviewers, editors, and readers.

Architecture of the EV-Checklist Online Tool

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Users can initiate a new checklist by obtaining a new code or continue/resubmitting one using a previously acquired code. Upon submission of a checklist, users receive a neatly formatted PDF and HTML checklist, which can be seamlessly inserted into their manuscripts. For improved visibility and transparency, all published checklists are made accessible in the checklist database. The questionnaire and PDF template are housed within an Excel file and RMarkdown document respectively, facilitating quick and effortless updates to the tool.

What is the EV-Checklist?

The EV-Checklist is a straightforward, digital tool that guides researchers through a series of steps to document their EV studies comprehensively. It covers key aspects such as nomenclature (the naming of EVs), their source, methods of isolation, characterization, and functional studies. By following this checklist, researchers can generate a concise, two-page PDF formatted table that summarizes their study methods and findings.

How Does It Work?

  1. Guided Documentation: The EV-Checklist provides a simple, step-by-step process for researchers to follow. This helps ensure that all necessary information is included and that the study adheres to established guidelines.
  2. Concise Summary: After completing the checklist, the tool generates a summary table that can easily be integrated into the manuscript. This table provides a clear overview of the study for editors, reviewers, and readers.
  3. Enhanced Transparency: By using the EV-Checklist, researchers can enhance the transparency and clarity of their studies. This makes it easier for others to understand and replicate the research, which is crucial for scientific progress.

Benefits of the EV-Checklist

  • Streamlined Process: The checklist simplifies the documentation process, making it less time-consuming and more user-friendly.
  • Improved Adherence to Standards: By providing a clear framework, the tool helps researchers adhere more closely to established guidelines, improving the quality and consistency of EV research.
  • Increased Clarity: The concise summary table generated by the checklist enhances the clarity of the study, making it easier for others to understand and evaluate the research.

The EV-Checklist is a valuable tool for the EV research community. By simplifying the documentation process and enhancing transparency, it supports the broader adoption of standardized reporting practices. This not only improves the quality and reproducibility of EV studies but also accelerates progress in this exciting field of research. As more researchers embrace the EV-Checklist, we can look forward to more rigorous, clear, and impactful studies in extracellular vesicle research.

Availability – The tool is available on https://ev-zone.org/EV_checklist/.

Poupardin R, Wolf M, Maeding N, Fuhrmann G, Strunk D. (2024) EV-Checklist: A fast documentation tool for enhancing transparency and accessibility in extracellular vesicle research. bioRXiv [online preprint]. [abstract]

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