We define an LSR as a systematic review which is continually updated, incorporating relevant new evidence as it becomes available.
Practically, this means that LSRs:
- Are underpinned by continual, active monitoring of the evidence (i.e. monthly searches)
- Immediately include any new important evidence (meaning data, studies or information) that is identified
- Are supported by up-to-date communication about the status of the review, and any new evidence being incorporated
While core review methods are not fundamentally different to other Cochrane Reviews, an LSR should additionally include explicit, transparent and predefined decisions on:
- How frequently new evidence is sought and screened
- When and how new evidence is incorporated into the review
Living systematic reviews (LSRs) provide a new approach to support the ongoing efforts of Cochrane and others to produce evidence that is both trustworthy and current.
The concept of living evidence synthesis and related outputs, such as living guidelines, are of increasing interest to evidence producers, decision makers, guideline developers, funders and publishers, as a way to seamlessly connect evidence and practice.
The possibility of a scaled-up living evidence approach has only recently been within reach, due to a number of technological and data-related innovations, such as online platforms, linked data, and machine learning. Concurrently, research groups are embracing larger collaborations, open and shared data, and the growth of the citizen science movement, opening up the possibility of communities with a common interest maintaining high value datasets and associated LSR.
Project Transform is currently piloting LSRs as part of the Production Models component with the following groups:
- Cochrane Gynaecological, Neuro-oncology and Orphan Cancers
- Cochrane Musculoskeletal
- Cochrane Acute Respiratory Infections
- Cochrane Heart
An evaluation plan is in place, and the LSR guidance will be revised on the basis of the evaluation once the pilots are completed. The expected timeline for this is mid-2018.
The purpose of this document is to outline the methods and production and publication models for pilot LSRs published on The Cochrane Library. It includes a protocol template for a Cochrane LSR.
This document is primarily designed to be a practical guidance document for the authors, Review Groups and Central Editorial Unit staff involved in the first round of Cochrane LSR pilots.
The approach described here is based on our review of current literature relevant to LSRs and consultation with a range of stakeholders, including the LSR Network, which includes members within Cochrane and beyond. The approach outlined is a work in progress. The ideas presented will be evaluated and refined on the basis of the pilot Reviews.
- Presentations from Cochrane Canada Symposium, LSR Workshop (13-14 May 2017)
- Webinar Introducing living systematic reviews (23 March 2017)
- Living systematic review methods symposium slides, Cochrane Colloquium, Seoul (26 October 2016)
- Living Systematic Reviews: towards real-time evidence for healthcare decision making (12 May 2016)
- Publically available Mendeley Library with relevant references
- Useful LSR references and resources
- Living systematic review series published in Journal of Clinical Epidemiology (12 September 2017)
- First two living systematic reviews now live on Cochrane Library! (8 September 2017)
- LSRs: On the road with Annie and Julian (3 July 2017)
- Living systematic reviews are going live (28 June 2017)
The LSR Network is an informal network that was launched in February 2016 and now has over 160 members, including Cochrane and non-Cochrane researchers, policymakers and guideline developers.
The LSR Network aims to:
- Share experiences, information and resources
- Further the thinking on LSR concept and methods
- Develop approaches for testing in Cochrane LSR pilots
If you would like to join the LSR Network, please email firstname.lastname@example.org