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Planning for a Cochrane review and moving thru the editorial process. Jodie Doyle, Managing Editor. Things to think about upfront.

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things to think about upfront
Things to think about upfront
  • Choosing a topic - Review authors need to understand their chosen topic area, particularly public health importance of intervention (design a logic model, undertake scoping of the existing evidence)
  • Ensuring relevance - potential end-users should be involved in framing the review question, intervention scope, and outcomes (see Review Advisory Group slide)
  • Consider funding options to support review production
  • Consider time commitment (12 months +, and updating thereafter)
  • Utilise the Cochrane Public Health Group (CPHG) early in the process (ie. to discuss topic)
  • Undertake Cochrane training - Cochrane Collaboration Online Learning local Cochrane Centres
choosing a topic
Choosing a topic
  • Know and have an interest in the content area
  • Review should add evidence to current, topical policy question on effectiveness of an intervention
  • Be prepared to have your own preconceived opinions on effects disproved (or don’t do it!) and to step outside of the health domain
  • Where possible, aim for a review topic that is relevant to developing country decision making
  • Check against the scope of the CPHG
  • Have other reviews on this topic been conducted?
    • Check for reviews already completed or in-progress with Cochrane Collaboration ( to avoid duplication of effort
    • Check other sources of reviews
funding options
Funding options
  • No direct funding from Cochrane Collaboration or CPHG to support full review production
  • Commercial sponsorship of reviews prohibited
  • Consider horizon scanning to support review funding (ie guidelines being developed, policy development on government agendas? etc)
  • Some organisations do commission CRs
  • Your local CC Centre may have knowledge of local funding opportunities
forming the authorship team
Forming the authorship team
  • At least two authors
  • Mix of content expertise with interdisciplinary perspectives
  • Methodology expertise
  • Consider time availability and management when deciding number of authors
  • Lead author to ‘lead’ on defining tasks of each member (task allocations to be described in proposal)
  • Try to include at least one other author from another country
forming a review advisory group
Forming a Review Advisory Group
  • A recommendation within The Cochrane Handbook
  • Helps ensure relevance to end users (policy makers, funders, practitioners, recipients/consumers)
  • Role: to help reviewers outline the parameters (ie. PICO) of their proposed review (not as co-authors). Provide background material (local/broader context) May help to interpret findings and disseminate
  • 4 – 8 members. PHRG can help source
  • Management can be challenging and potentially time-consuming - lead author generally responsible for communications
  • Be clear on roles (formal or informal) and timeframes. Ask direct questions.
editorial process of a review thru the phrg
Editorial process of a review thru the PHRG

Cochrane reviews progress to final review publication in 3 stages:

  • Title registration
  • Protocol - sets out your plan for conducting the review
  • Completed review (Updates thereafter)
cphg review development process

1. Registration of title

3-6 months

2. Submission of Protocol to editorial base (editorial comment and feedback (2-3 weeks)

Co-edit by Publishers. Final author and editorial

approval – marked for

Publication (2-3weeks)

Author modifications to document

6-12 months

Publication in

Cochrane Library

3. Submission of completed review (or updated review) toeditorial base (editorial comment and feedback (3-4 weeks)

CPHG Review Development Process

External review and feedback (3 weeks)

Editorial review of modifications(1-2 weeks)

External review and feedback (4 weeks)

title registration stage 1
Title registration stage (1)
  • Significant stage in setting up the direction of the review – don’t rush into submission
  • Upon general agreement on the review topic with the Managing Editor (, you are sent a Title Registration Form to complete
  • Ensure all authors have input into the TRF, involve the RAG members at this stage

The TRF asks for information on:

  • Author team (including experience in doing reviews)
  • Motivation for the review
  • Funding
  • Parameters of the proposed review, ie.
    • Objective
    • Rationale for review
    • PICO
    • Other information relevant to the proposal, including a) relevance to developing countries and b) in highlighting issues of inequity
  • TRF is sent to the editors for consideration and comments -> If approved, title registered with CC to ensure that there is no overlap with any others -> after 2 weeks (if there is no overlap/objections) the title is officially registered and you can begin work on the protocol.
protocol development 2
Protocol development (2)

Need to include:

  • Background
  • Objective
  • Criteria for considering studies for this review

Types of studies

Types of participants

Types of interventions

Types of outcome measures

Search methods for identification of studies

  • Methods of the review

Study selection

Data extraction

Study quality (how data will be extracted and assessed)

Statistical analysis

  • Sources of support, Acknowledgements, Conflict of Interest
protocol development 211
Protocol development (2)
  • Download the software (Revman) for entering protocol and review text
  • User account and link to the CC IMS – Archie
  • CPHG Guide for developing a Cochrane protocol
  • CPHG Handbook - more specific guidance conducting PH reviews
  • Cochrane Reviewer Training - local Cochrane Centre or self-directed training available on-line
  • All authors involved in protocol development (RAG members can also be consulted)
  • Protocol first submitted within 3-6 months of title registration
  • Peer reviewed by external referees and PHRG editors
  • Copy edited -> published on The Cochrane Library
review development 3
Review development (3)
  • Upon acceptance of protocol for publication

-> commence work on the review

  • No need for RAG members to be involved
  • Submitted review (6-12 months) undergoes similar editorial process to the protocol and is published on The Cochrane Library when the final draft has been accepted
  • Updates every 2 years or as necessary
ongoing support
Ongoing support
  • Unlike other journals we do not take your submitted work and either accept or reject it -> work with team until protocol/review meets standards for publication
  • Statistical editors can assist with any statistical problems and will assess the draft protocol and review when submitted
  • The TSC can assist in reviewing search strategy and may be able to help with study retrieval, resources permitting
lessons from review authors
Lessons from review authors
  • Think about funding before starting to allow blocking of time. Enthusiasm may not be enough to get the protocol finished. Funding can be essential
  • Can be time consuming potentially up to 2 years to write and publish the review – if people undertaking in their “spare time“ or around other work projects.
  • Think about the practicality of doing a review with people from around the globe who you have never met. Establish clear goals, time lines and frequency of communication…project management
useful resources
Useful Resources
  • CPHG’s Guide for developing a Cochrane protocol
  • Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions -

Other resources linked on -

cochrane collaboration online learning
Cochrane Collaboration Online Learning

why have a protocol
Why have a protocol?
  • Systematic reviews are scientific research
  • Involve judgements about what to include
  • Plan methods ‘a priori’ to reduce bias
  • Access to peer review
  • Avoid duplication of effort
format of a protocol
Format of a protocol
  • Title
  • Review authors
  • Background
  • Objectives
  • Selection criteria
  • Search strategy
  • Methods
  • other

Your new best friends…

CPHG’s Guide for developing a Cochrane protocol

Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions

writing your protocol
Writing your protocol

1) Background

  • How important is the problem?
  • Is there uncertainty?
  • What is the reasoning as to why the intervention(s) might work? (include theoretical frameworks)
  • Other similar reviews?
  • Why is it important to do the review?
writing your protocol21
Writing your protocol

2) Objectives

  • What are the questions/hypotheses?

3) Selection criteria

  • Follow naturally from objectives
  • PICO(T)
    • Population(s)
    • Intervention(s)
    • Comparison(s)
    • Outcomes (Primary / Secondary)
    • Types of studies
writing your protocol22
Writing your protocol

4) Planned search strategy

  • Databases and terms

5) Planned data extraction

  • Processes and outcomes?
  • More than one reviewer?
  • Planned quality appraisal (incl. checklists)

6) Method of synthesis

  • Tabulate
  • Narrative/qualitative synthesis or meta-analysis
any questions
Any questions?