Cochrane Collaboration
Steering Group Minutes 16-17/2/98

Minutes of meeting of the Cochrane Collaboration Steering Group,
Cape Town, 16th and 17th February 1998
[These minutes were approved by the Steering Group Executive on 26th March 1998]

Index to Minutes
SubjectItem SubjectItem
Abstracts4.5Action Plan10
Biomed II Project8CENTRAL/CCTR15
Clarification of responsibilities [of Software Development Group]13.1Closed meetings [of coordinating editors]17.3
Cochrane Journal5.3Cochrane Manual (former Policy & Operations Manual)5.2
Cochrane Trading Limited7.4Comments and Criticisms13.2
Constitution of the Cochrane Collaboration17.1Contact Directory4.6
CRG modules12.6Current financial position7.1
Database of unpublished data4.7Derivative products and synopses4.4
Editing of reviews16.3Election of new Chair9.1
Electoral process within the Collaboration9.31998 Election9.4
1998 Colloquium [update on]14.1Field bursary schemes4.2
Form of citation of Cochrane Reviews11.1Funders' Forum7.3
Guidelines on affiliate status4.8Handbook6
Insurance for the Collaboration4.1Letter of support [for project application to MRC]17.2
Monitoring the progress of entities12.3Monitoring Centres12.7
Monitoring CRGs12.5Plan for training and support for review group coordination11.3
Preparation of proposals in light of Collaboration's principles4.3Prevention and resolution of conflict4.9
Progress on trademarking the [Cochrane] logo7.2Proposal for listing contributions in Cochrane Reviews11.2
Quality Assurance System7.6Reviews of observational data4.10
Registration checklists12.2Report on recent [registration] applications12.1
Reports of targets by Fields12.8RevMan for Macintosh13.3
RevMan [matters for approval of new release of]13.4Subgroup for CRG Coordination12.4
TC Chalmers MD Award14.2Three-Year Business Plan7.5
Translations16.1Treasurer9.2
Trials Registers Development Group15Use of the Cochrane logo [guidelines on]16.2
web site accuracy5.1

Present: Zarko Alfirevic, Hilda Bastian, Monica Fischer, Gill Gyte, Jini Hetherington (minutes), Paul Jones, Jos Kleijnen, Mark Lodge, Andy Oxman (Chair).

Lisa Bero, Chris Silagy and Mark Starr (Update Software) were included in parts of the meeting by conference call. Phil Alderson, Gerd Antes, Iain Chalmers, Taddy Dickersin and Peter Gøtzsche also attended parts of the meeting, and Anton de Craen (Dutch Cochrane Centre) attended part of the meeting as an observer.

1. Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were received from Lisa Bero, Muir Gray, Cecilia Hammarqvist, Beverley Shea, and Chris Silagy.

2. Approval of minutes of previous meeting

The minutes of the previous meeting held on 10th and 12th October 1997 in Amsterdam had been approved by the Executive Group, circulated to all entities on 18th December 1997, and put onto the Collaboration's Web pages. No further changes were noted.

3. Approval of agenda

It was agreed to rearrange the agenda.

4. Matters arising from the previous minutes

4.1 Insurance for the Collaboration:

Mark was asked to follow up on this matter, in consultation with Muir, to check with a couple of journal publishers the extent to which they are covered by insurance, and to provide updated information to the Executive for their teleconference on 26th March if possible. It was agreed that Muir and Jini should investigate obtaining insurance cover for all Directors (i.e. Steering Group members) as soon as possible, with the understanding that the cost would be approximately 1,000.
Action: Mark L., Muir, Jini

4.2 Field bursary schemes:

A report by Cecilia Hammarqvist and Mark Lodge on possibilities for Fields to attract money and pass it on to support reviewers was discussed. There are no specific plans to establish such a scheme and it was agreed that no new policy was needed. It was suggested that any entity or group of entities contemplating a bursary scheme should consult with their supporting Centre Director(s) to avoid any potential conflicts.

4.3 Preparation of proposals in light of the Collaboration's principles:

It was agreed that Mike Clarke's suggestion that proposals should state how they relate to the principles of the Collaboration is a good idea, and Jini was asked to circulate his document to all entities, encouraging people to do this, after checking with Mike whether any revision to the document is needed before it is widely circulated.
Action: Jini

4.4 Derivative products and synopses:
(a) Hilda was congratulated on the progress that has been made on the synopses prepared by the Consumer Network. It was decided that synopses should be incorporated in Cochrane Reviews when RevMan 4.0 is released in mid-1999. Monica should add this to the specifications for RevMan 4.0 and this change should be incorporated in the Handbook.
Action: Monica, Andy

(b) The synopses should focus on the results and avoid interpreting the relative value of benefits and risks. Hilda, with help from Zarko and Paul, was asked to suggest a mechanism for preparing, editing and publishing synopses incorporated in Cochrane Reviews.
Action: Hilda, Zarko, Paul

(c) Neither consumer summaries nor synopses should be currently included in entities' modules on The Cochrane Library. Paul should make an announcement to this effect to all CRGs, and the Registration Group should check for this when they review the new modules that CRGs will be preparing (see Item 12.6 below).
Action: Paul

4.5 Abstracts:
(a)
Appreciation was expressed to Chris and Philippa Middleton for undertaking their review of abstracts in CDSR. Andy agreed to send a message to all entities requesting that anyone engaging in any assessment of the quality of reviews should inform the CCSG of such activities (to avoid unnecessary duplication and promote collaboration), with a reminder that anyone identifying an error in a review should inform the reviewer so that it can be corrected at the earliest opportunity.
Action: Andy

(b) Andy will draft general guidelines for people doing quality assessments of reviews, for the CCSG meeting in October 1998.
Action: Andy

4.6 The Contact Directory:
Gerd Antes explained that the German Cochrane Centre has accepted taking over responsibility from the Australasian Cochrane Centre for maintaining this Directory, but intends that it will in future only include information obtained from the entities' modules, which will contain contact details for all members of the entity. Those contact details will not be published in The Cochrane Library. The contact details will be obtained automatically from the Parent Database: Gerd should discuss the feasibility of this with Update Software as soon as possible. This strategy was approved in principle, as long as the FTP version of the Directory is password protected, and is made available to all registered entities. Gerd should notify all entities of these new arrangements when it is clear that they can be implemented.
Action: Gerd

4.7 Database of unpublished data:
The purpose of this database is to provide easy access to unpublished information that is referenced in Cochrane Reviews or modules published in CDSR. Andy reported that work is now underway in Oslo to develop and maintain this database at the Norwegian Branch of the Nordic Cochrane Centre. It is hoped that the database will be available by July/August. A technical proposal will be circulated to the Informatics MG and SDG for advice and approval, and entities will be surveyed regarding practical aspects of the database and their needs and wishes. The intention is to make the database as easy as possible for entering and accessing documents and managing the database. It is anticipated that the database will support two types of documents: electronic files in rich text format and scanned images of printed documents. Andy was encouraged to proceed with developing and implementing this database.
Action: Andy

4.8 Guidelines on affiliate status:
It was agreed that this is not an urgent issue at present, and the item can be raised again in the future if necessary.

4.9 Prevention and resolution of conflict:
(a) The existing aims and principles of the Collaboration should replace the current text describing these in the tabled document. The inability to handle stress and to manage time efficiently need to be added to the list of things that can potentially lead to conflict. It should be stated that face to face introductions of people are invaluable, and that the annual Cochrane Colloquia are most useful for this. The suggestion of having an ombudsman should be explored further. An introductory pack of material for new members of the Collaboration should be investigated, and Jini was asked to send the CCSG a list of the items she includes in the welcoming letter she currently sends to new review group coordinators.
Action: Jini

(b) The working party on conflict resolution should ask each Centre to nominate someone to attend a workshop on this issue at the Baltimore Colloquium.
Action: Gill, Taddy

(c) Specific comments on the draft document should be sent to Gill by the end of March, so that she can revise and circulate it to the CCSG for feedback, after which it can be distributed widely for comments, revised and brought back to the CCSG in October to consider inclusion of the revised document in the Cochrane Manual.
Action: Everyone, Gill

4.10 Reviews of observational data:

Jini was asked to find out from Chris why this item had been put onto the agenda.
Action: Jini

5. Editorial Group

5.1 web site accuracy:

Gerd explained on behalf of the Editorial Group that the Australasian Web site maintained by the ACC is now to be regarded as the Collaboration's core Web site, and that the Canadian and German web sites are mirrors of this site. It was reaffirmed that the Editorial Group is responsible for ensuring the up-to-datedness and veracity of the general information produced about the Collaboration (e.g. the small introductory leaflet about the Collaboration, the Cochrane brochure, the Web page contents), and the Publishing Policy Group is responsible for giving advice to Update Software on the pricing structure and dissemination platforms of The Cochrane Library. Monica was asked to draft a proposal with Gerd Antes for the Executive to consider, as to who is responsible for deciding what should be made available on the Web sites.
Action: Monica, Gerd

5.2 The Cochrane Manual (formerly Policy and Operations Manual):

(a) Jini was congratulated for bringing together the first version of this. It was agreed that in future it should be referred to as the Cochrane Manual, and that Jini should ask Update Software to make it much easier in future to find and access it on The Cochrane Library CD. Any policy statements contained in the Manual should be clearly labelled as such.
Action: Jini

(b) Named people should take responsibility for providing/updating each section, even if they delegate the actual preparation to others. Thus, Lisa and Monica are responsible for the section on Centres; Mark is responsible for the section on Fields; Hilda is responsible for the section on the Consumer Network (in the interim she will provide Jini with appropriate text from the Consumer Network module, to incorporate in the next issue of the Manual); and Taddy is responsible for providing a revised Section V of the original Handbook, including a description of CENTRAL and taking into account other changes. This should be prepared within the next three months, if at all possible, so that it can be included in the next issue of The Cochrane Library.
Action: Lisa, Monica, Mark L., Hilda, Taddy, Chris

(c) Hilda, Mark and Jini were asked to look at the content of the Manual so far, and to come up with a proposal for editing it and keeping it up to date, for consideration by the Executive at its 26th March teleconference, taking into account the need for relevant entities to ratify the contents of each section. The Manual should have a Feedback facility to enable people to provide suggestions for improving it and correcting errors. Andy will pursue the possibility of someone within his Institute making the Manual an html document to make it more user-friendly. The Manual could then also be put onto the Collaboration's Web site.
Action: Hilda, Mark L., Jini, Andy

5.3 Proposed Cochrane Journal:

Iain Chalmers' message that the proposal for a Cochrane Journal had been abandoned was noted. However, Iain reported verbally that Vitek Tracz is interested again from his new position in moving this forward, after learning that Elsevier had decided not to proceed with the proposed publication. Iain will keep the CCSG informed.
Action: Iain

6. Handbook

The next major update of the Handbook will be in line with the release of RevMan 4.0. It was suggested that the Handbook should in future be called the Cochrane Collaboration Reviewers' Handbook. Andy would check this amendment with Cindy and advise everyone whether or not she has any objections. If not, he will make this change in the next update of the Handbook (to be released at the same time as Issue 3 of The Cochrane Library 1998).
Action: Andy

7. Secretariat


7.1 Current financial position:
It was agreed that the high cost of legal fees continues to be of great concern, and that whenever possible free legal advice should be sought. Although the financial stability of the Collaboration continues to be somewhat uncertain, the Steering Group instructed that the Secretariat should employ full-time secretarial support as soon as possible.
Action: Muir


7.2 Progress on trademarking the Cochrane logo:
Australasia is the only place so far in which the Cochrane logo has become a registered trademark. Jini should ask Karen Stamm to announce this in Cochrane News. Progress on registration in other countries continues to be slow and is expensive.
Action: Jini

7.3 Funders' Forum:
Chris Henshall, Kent Woods and Iain Chalmers are to meet in London on 30th March, with Chris and Andy participating by telephone, to plan a meeting of potential funders of the Collaboration in October. This event might take place in London before or after the BMJ's clinical trials conference on 29th and 30th October; however, Taddy was keen to register that such a meeting might more usefully be held in Baltimore at the time of the next Colloquium when many US funders could be attracted to attend.
Action: Chris, Andy

7.4 Cochrane Trading Limited:
Monica moved, and Andy seconded, that Muir's proposal to set up a trading company should be accepted. It was suggested that it be called the Collaboration Trading Company or the CC Trading Company. It was agreed that Muir should proceed with arrangements to set this up, with Jos Kleijnen as one of its Directors, and to suggest names of two possible other Directors to the Executive at its next teleconference on 26th March of people (not members of the Steering Group) known to be sympathetic to the Collaboration (e.g. Jos after he steps down).
Action: Muir

7.5 Three-Year Business Plan:
(a) Jini was asked to thank Muir for producing this plan. Until the Collaboration has adequate financial resources to implement such a plan, it should be treated as for information only. An urgent need was felt for a firmer business plan, containing actual figures, and people should come up with concrete suggestions to be included in this, to be moved forward by Andy, Hilda and Jini in conjunction with the Treasurer.
Action: Andy, Hilda, Jini, Jos, Monica

(b) The Collaboration's Treasurer was asked to keep a list of the funds needed for all its core activities.
Action: Jos, Monica

7.6 Quality Assurance System:
Jini was asked to pass on the Steering Group's thanks to Muir for preparing this thoughtful document.
Action: Jini

8. BIOMED II Project

Jos reported on the recent successful provision to the European Commission of a progress report on activities in the second year of this project. He said that the project participants had been very active in 1997, developing a three-day pilot workshop for training people in doing systematic reviews. The materials prepared for this would be sent to Andy and Cindy, and then made widely available. In view of the fact that funding for this project ends in December 1998, it was agreed that a sum (six months' operating costs) should be set aside to protect the salaries of the staff of the Secretariat. Jos reported that the Collaboration planned to apply for another project grant from the European Commission as soon as it is possible to do so.
Action: Jos

9. Elections to the Steering Group

9.1 Election of new Chair:

(a) It was agreed that all candidates for the position of Chair need to have a proposer and a seconder.

(b) In the future the names of candidates should be made known to the Steering Group at least one week in advance of the February/March meeting in the year in which the position of Chair is due to pass to someone new. Steering Group members absent from that February/March meeting should be allowed to provide a written vote by the cut-off date for receipt of nominations, and proxy votes are acceptable for members unable to attend the meeting at the last minute. Candidates for the Chair must circulate a 200-word limited text about their plans to the Steering Group no later than a week before the February/March meeting.

(c) Monica proposed that Andy take over from Chris as Chair in October 1998 for two years; Hilda seconded the nomination, and the motion was carried. No other nominations were put forward. Andy accepted to take over from Chris as Chair, but proposed that his role as representative of Methods Groups be assumed by someone else when he becomes Chair. It was agreed that in future the person who becomes Chair should not represent a specific entity in addition to being the Chair. Andy will seek two-year funding in Norway to employ an Executive Director to work with him in Oslo, to travel on his behalf where appropriate, to represent the organisation, and to pursue avenues of funding for the Collaboration.

9.2 Treasurer:
Monica agreed to replace Jos as Treasurer when he resigns from the Steering Group at the end of March 1998 to take up his new position as Director of the York Centre for Reviews and Dissemination.

9.3 Electoral process within the Collaboration:

(a) It was agreed that the electoral process should be reviewed by an ad hoc sub-committee of the Steering Group appointed in October 1999, to include both members and non-members of the Steering Group. It should be asked to submit its recommendations for amendments to the existing electoral process to the Steering Group at its meeting in October 2000.

(b) Candidates must be registered members of the appropriate entity. Every candidate must have a nominator and a seconder, and these names should be stated when the candidates are announced; candidates must acknowledge in writing to the Secretariat their willingness to stand, enclosing a personal profile limited to 200 words (and cut off at that limit), describing the contribution they would make to the Collaboration if elected.

(c) When the names of nominated candidates are announced, they should be listed in random order, and it should be clearly stated that this is the order that has been used.

(d) The Secretariat Administrator, plus one independent person, should act as electoral officer for Steering Group elections.

(e) There is no longer any division between Centre Directors and other staff members of Centres, although at least one of the four Centre representatives must be a Centre Director and at least one must be a staff member. All staff can vote for all Centre representative positions, including Directors and Deputies, and candidature is not restricted to paid staff.

(f) It was suggested that all contributors named in modules have the right to vote, but this is not compulsory and is still left to the discretion of the individual entities.

(g) Incomplete votes cannot be counted.

(h) It was agreed that the ballot need not be secret (i.e. voting by fax and e-mail remains acceptable).

(i) In the event of a resignation of a Steering Group member outside the normal system of rotation, that constituency is to decide whether or not to seek an interim replacement.

(j) The proposal was accepted that a caretaker be allowed to join the Steering Group until the next round of elections (in the event of a resignation outside the normal system of rotation), but that the caretaker must first be approved by the Steering Group (via e-mail).


(k) It was decided that the Chair should cease to represent a particular constituency, and a new representative should be elected as part of the normal election immediately following the election of a new Chair. It was further agreed to add a fifth CRG representative. At least one of the CRG representatives must be a co-ordinating editor. These two changes increase the number of CCSG members to 14:

CRG representatives 5
Centre representatives 4
Consumer network representatives 2
Field representative 1
MG representative 1
Chair 1

(l) All voting members of CRGs should vote for all five CRG representative positions, and it was stressed that the co-ordinating editor and review group co-ordinator representatives are elected unambiguously to represent those specific groups of people.

(m) It was voted against adding another representative of Fields. However, in the case of entities having only one representative on the Steering Group (currently the coordinating editor and review group coordinator representatives for CRGs, Fields and Methods Groups), if such representatives are unable to participate in a Steering Group meeting for any reason, the runner-up in the elections for those representatives would act as their deputies and have voting rights. In the meantime, until the next round of elections, Mark and Andy will propose to Chris the name of an alternate to deputise for them should the need arise. Deputies attending meetings on behalf of the elected representatives of other entities would not have voting rights.
Action: Mark L., Andy

9.4 1998 Election:
The Secretariat Administrator should issue the 1998 call for nominations to the Steering Group by the end of March. Nominations should be sent in writing to the Secretariat during April and May, voting should take place in June and July, with the results being announced at the end of July. It should be made clear to candidates that, if elected, they should plan to attend the Steering Group meeting during the Colloquium in October.

10. Action Plan

(a) It was noted that Chris should go through the Action Plan and replace Jos' name with that of another member of the CCSG. The revised action plan was reviewed with a view to preparing a progress report to be presented by Chris at the Colloquium in Baltimore. The aim of this report is to bring attention to the achievements of the Collaboration over the past two years, to celebrate these achievements, and to note major challenges for the next couple of years. It was agreed that in addition to preparing a presentation for the Colloquium, we should prepare a written report with an aim towards publishing this report. It was agreed that we should approach first JAMA to find out if they might be interested in publishing this report. If they are not interested, the BMJ should be approached. The Collaboration would want to be able to distribute such an article without paying royalties to the journal. Chris, Lisa and Andy were volunteered to form the writing committee for the written report, and Chris was given responsibility for pulling together the presentation for the Colloquium. If the article is published, it should be by the three authors on behalf of the Collaboration's Steering Group (appropriately listing contributions).
Action: Chris, Lisa, Andy

(b) To facilitate preparation of Chris' presentation and the CCSG's progress report it was agreed to divide the Action Plan into 13 parts and assign one or two people to prepare one overhead and a short text (approximately 150 words) highlighting up to four noteworthy achievements and up to two major challenges or priorities that lay ahead. The overheads will be synthesised by Chris and the text will be synthesised by Chris, Lisa and Andy. Draft overheads and text should be sent to Chris by May 15.
Action: see below

(c) Jini should request those not present at the meeting to summarise progress on items assigned to them below, and send them to Chris.
Action: Jini

Goal 1
Strategy 1.1.1 Taddy
Strategy 1.1.2 Iain Chalmers
Strategy 1.1.3 a - c, n, o Jos
Strategy 1.1.3 d - m Andy
Strategy 1.1.4 Hilda and Gill, with input from Andy on (c)
Strategy 1.1.5 - 1.1.8 Lisa
Strategy 1.1.9 - 1.1.11 Lisa (should be combined with Goal 3)
Strategy 1.2.1 - 1.2.2 Peter Gøtzsche

Goal 2:
Strategy 2.1.1 - 2.1.4 Hilda and Gill
Strategy 2.1.5 Chris and Mark Starr
Strategy 2.2 Monica and Mark Starr
Strategy 2.3 Chris and Muir

Goal 3 Lisa (incl. Strategies 1.1.9 - 1.1.11)

Goal 4: Andy (or Chris, if he prefers)

11. CRG matters

11.1 Form of citation of Cochrane Reviews:

Zarko reported that the most favoured citation option is: "Authors. Title (Cochrane Review). In: The Cochrane Library, Issue 1, 1998. Oxford: Update Software." It was agreed to adopt this form of citation. Zarko was thanked for his perseverance in achieving resolution of this issue. The citation form should be publicised to all entities via Cochrane News, should be changed in The Cochrane Library, and should be noted in the Handbook and the Manual.
Action: Jini, Mark S., Andy

11.2 Proposal for listing contributions in Cochrane Reviews:
Jini was asked to thank Drummond Rennie and Veronica Yank for their excellent proposal. There were no objections to the proposed byline, citations, or list of contributions of reviewers, which should be incorporated in RevMan 4.0. The CRG representatives will consult with their constituency via the adminors and allcoeds discussion lists, before approving this proposal. Feedback should be provided to the Executive Group in its teleconference on 26th March if possible. Zarko should seek clarification from Drummond as to the distinction between someone listed under the Acknowledgements section and someone listed as having made a contribution to the review, and should provide an example to show people exactly how it should look. If the proposal is approved, these changes should be added to the specifications for RevMan 4.0 and the Handbook.
Action: Jini, Paul, Zarko, Monica, Andy

11.3 A plan for training and support for Review Group Coordination:
It was agreed that Bev should rework her tabled document slightly, with a view to including it in the Cochrane Manual. The need for a central support person for CRGs was acknowledged, and it was agreed that Ruth Jepson would be a very suitable person to fill this role. Monica undertook to raise at the Centre Directors' meeting the problem of funding such a position, as there might only be enough funds pledged by CRGs to support employing someone for one day a week, which might or might not be acceptable to Ruth. Chris and Jini should continue to pursue other avenues of funding for this position, and Jini should convey these deliberations to Ruth.
Action: Bev, Monica, Chris, Jini

12. Registration Group

12.1 Report on recent applications:
Zarko reported on the recently registered CRGs and those whose applications are still in the pipeline.

12.2 Registration checklists:
(a) It was clarified that although it is not usual to be able to show guaranteed funding for the editorial base in the registration application for a new CRG, it should be demonstrated that there are at least good prospects for funding. To this end, the Chair of the Registration Group should send a message to Centre Directors requesting that in assisting applicants for whom they are the responsible Centre, the funding prospects should be clearly stated in the application.
Action: Lisa

(b) It was noted that the checklists were developed as tools to guide applicants and assessments of applications, and to improve the consistency and transparency of assessments. They should not be applied rigidly since there is a need for judgement, and additional communication with the applicants or supporting Centre Director can often resolve concerns. If any additional information is required by the Steering Group, whether on funding or on other issues, that is not contained in the original application, this should be requested of the applicants or the supporting Centre Director in an informal way and circulated to the Steering Group in advance of preparing the official letter of response to the application.
Action: Lisa

(c) Hilda agreed to take a first look at the checklists for registering new entities, to see which items constitute major and which constitute minor comments on an application, and to circulate her assessment to the whole CCSG by e-mail as soon as possible. Eventually, those checklist items considered to be major could be in bold text, and it would also help if, in acknowledging registration applications, Jini sent applicants a description of the process and timescale to which their application would be subject.
Action: Hilda, Jini

12.3 Monitoring the progress of entities:
(a)
At the previous Steering Group meeting in October 1997, the Registration Group had been given responsibility for developing checklists for all entities, concentrating in the first instance on monitoring the progress of CRGs, standardising the contents of their modules, and new registrations. In this regard, and with respect to Peter Gøtzsche's recent survey of the scope and topic lists of CRGs, it was agreed that any proposed name change of an existing CRG would need the approval of the Chair of the Registration Group, in consultation with Iain Chalmers and Peter Gøtzsche, before being adopted and made public. Lisa should communicate this to all entities.
Action: Lisa

(b) Chris was asked to write formally to the San Antonio Cochrane Center to reiterate that, while the needs of funders for recognition are well appreciated, the Center does not have the Collaboration's approval to refer to themselves as anything other than the San Antonio Cochrane Center.
Action: Chris

12.4 Subgroup for CRG Coordination:
(a) Each of Peter Gøtzsche's suggestions concerning the scope and topic lists of CRG modules was reviewed. There was wide agreement in support of most of the suggestions, and all of them were approved with the exception of the fourth under scope (regarding surrogate outcomes); and the fourth (to include the primary reviewer's name in the list) and eleventh (to list the number of trials identified under each topic) under topic lists. It was also agreed that topic lists should be given a tree structure, if possible. Cath Milwain's suggestions were also endorsed. Monica and Mark should ensure that all the approved suggestions are implemented in the software.
Action: Monica, Mark S.

(b) Peter and Iain were thanked for taking this forward, and Iain was asked to pass on congratulations to Cath Milwain at the UKCC for her very helpful suggestions for improving the readability of modules.
Action: Iain

(c) Appropriate advice regarding the scope and topics lists should be incorporated in the guidelines that Paul is preparing for the new modules that CRGs will be preparing.
Action: Paul

(d) Taddy was asked in future to include the Master List of Handsearched Journals on The Cochrane Library, with a note that the most up-to-date version of this list is always available on the Baltimore Cochrane Center's Web site, and Taddy and Mark agreed that this could be done by Update Software simply downloading the Master List from the Baltimore Cochrane Center's Web site. This will obviate the need for CRGs to include their list of handsearched journals in their modules. This should be incorporated in the guidelines being prepared by Paul for the new CRG modules.
Action: Mark S., Paul


12.5 Monitoring CRGs:
The draft monitoring checklists should go to the whole Steering Group by 1st April, and to the CRGs by 1st May for feedback, so that by 1st July there would be an agreed document which CRGs would be asked to complete within a fortnight. CRGs would send their completed checklists to their Cochrane Centre Director, who would collate and forward them to the Chair of the Registration Group with a covering letter giving their assessment of any problem areas. Phil Alderson identified that there are several items on the existing draft checklist for CRGs that can be extracted automatically from the Parent Database to assist CRGs. He agreed to liaise closely with Zarko and the rest of the Registration Group to ensure that the process for monitoring CRGs in the UK, now required by the NHS Research and Development Programme, is developed jointly with the monitoring process for the rest of the Collaboration.
Action: Zarko, Phil


12.6 CRG Modules:
(a)
New headings in ModMan have been agreed to, after obtaining widespread feedback. Paul, in consultation with Kate Oldfield (convenor of the ModMan Advisory Group), should have guidelines for implementing these new headings ready by the end of March, to distribute to CRGs in April.
Action: Paul

(b) The content of all CRG modules should be screened by the Registration Group or co-opted individuals by the end of June, who should provide feedback directly to the CRGs by the end of July. This will allow August and September for addressing any major concerns, so that modules can be finalised by mid-October, in good time for the 25th November module submission deadline. Paul should liaise closely with Update Software to ensure that the guidelines and modifications to the ModMan software are consistent.
Action: Cecilia, Gill, Lisa, Mark, Paul, Zarko, Monica

(c) Phil Alderson and Peter Gøtzsche agreed to assist the Registration Group in this monitoring process.
Action: Zarko, Lisa, Phil, Peter

(d) It was agreed that modules should only be accepted for inclusion in The Cochrane Library from CRGs or other entities which have undergone the formal registration process. Chris should therefore write to the co-ordinating editor of the Musculoskeletal Group (with a copy to Mark Starr) to communicate this decision, as any of the subgroups must go through the formal registration process if they wish to have modules included on The Cochrane Library in future. The Musculoskeletal Group and its two subgroups that have independent editorial bases and submit their own modules will need to prepare their modules using the same guidelines as other CRGs. Since the two subgroups have never been formally registered, they should go through a modified registration process, perhaps in connection with preparing their new modules. In addition, Chris should send a message to all entities stating that if a CRG wishes to establish a sub-group, this needs to go through the formal registration process.
Action: Chris, Lisa


12.7 Monitoring Centres:
(a)
It was confirmed that Centre Directors would discuss the reports of their targets at their meeting on 18th February, and that Jos would then forward these altogether to the Secretariat and also to Lisa as Chair of the Registration Group, asking her to draft a checklist for Centres, using their own reported targets as the basis for this. Jos was asked to remind the few Centres which have not yet submitted reports of their targets that it is essential to do this by the end of March.
Action: Jos, Lisa

(b) It was reiterated that if a change of Centre Director is proposed for any reason, the existing Director should write to the Steering Group describing the implications of such a change. It was also agreed that any proposed new Director should also write to the Steering Group, stating her/his understanding of and agreement with the aims and principles of the Collaboration, and noting any planned changes in the targets and plans for the Centre. Jos should communicate these requirements to all Centre Directors.
Action: Jos

12.8 Reports of targets by Fields:
There was general support for the targets set by the Fields. All the Fields are to be congratulated for their work in identifying trials. An excellent job is being done by the Cancer Network in setting up new CRGs. It was clearly the general (but not unanimous) opinion of the Steering Group that performance of Fields had been variable when it came to identifying reviewers and putting them in contact with Collaborative Review Groups. Clarification was sought from those Fields which had not mentioned consumer involvement, even though it was known informally that such involvement occurs. On the basis of these preliminary reports, Mark will be responsible for standardising them and using them to develop a checklist for monitoring Fields.
Action: Mark L.

13. Software Development Group

13.1 Clarification of responsibilities:
Monica distributed a flow chart demonstrating the communication channels within the Information Management System, and the accountability of the various advisory groups. She agreed to produce a less complex version of this, as well as a description of each advisory group's remit, for the next Executive teleconference on 26th March. This information should be included in the Cochrane Manual and on the Web page in due course. Monica will also produce a poster for the Baltimore Colloquium, and plans to organise a clinic during that event on RevMan and Handbook issues.
Action: Monica

13.2 Comments and Criticisms:
There was full support from the Steering Group for maintaining the Criticism Editors, and trying to make the Comments and Criticisms system much more manageable. Mark Starr agreed to draft something for Lisa to circulate to Criticism Editors as to the way forward in the immediate future, since the current procedure is overly complex. The SFCC will send out a reminder to CRGs to try to speed up response to criticisms; in addition, Lisa was asked to provide actual figures for the number of criticisms and responses to date, so that the whole process can be monitored.
Action: Mark S., Lisa

13.3 RevMan for Macintosh:
The Steering Group agreed to cease to support RevMan for Macintosh after the pending version 3.1. Monica will convey this to the Macintosh users' group.
Action: Monica

13.4 Matters for approval of the new release of RevMan:
(a) A structured format for references to ongoing studies was approved.
(b) A structured format for references to published studies was approved.
(c) The date that the review was first published will be included in The Cochrane Library.
(d) The order of sources of support will be user-defined rather than alphabetical. (These sources are already displayed as intra- or extra-mural.)
(e) There will be a What's New area at the beginning of the textual information in the modules.
(f) Textual formatting options (bold, italics, underlining, etc.) will NOT be incorporated in the software.
(g) Bullet points and international characters will become available, as will different formats for tables and custom labels for graphs.
(h) The Peto odds ratio will cease to be the default statistic.

14. Colloquium

14.1 Update on 1998 Colloquium:
Taddy reported that over 5,000 brochures calling for abstracts for the next Colloquium had been sent out, to all those who asked for them, and that the registration brochure will go out in early March. She stressed that people attending the Colloquium should be encouraged to stay at the designated hotel because this arrangement is what is paying for meeting rooms and keeping registration costs down. Invited workshops only are being held, and everything is being streamed for newcomers or old timers. 1st March is the deadline for requests for meetings to be sent to the BCC. Taddy was asked to rearrange the tabled proposed schedule of meetings to avoid the Steering Group meetings and review group co-ordinators' meetings happening at the same time(s), to enable the RGCs' representative on the Steering Group to attend the meetings of both these groups.
Action: Taddy

14.2 TC Chalmers MD Award:
It was agreed to leave existing arrangements for this award in place for another year, and revisit this if the need arises.

15. Trials Registers Development Group

(a) Andy, Monica and Mark Starr affirmed that the Collaboration owns CENTRAL and The Cochrane Controlled Trials Register (CCTR), and Update Software simply publishes these in The Cochrane Library. CENTRAL was always intended to be a dirty database, established to give CRGs immediate access to all available trials, and the CCTR is intended to be a 'cleaned up' version of this.

(b) It was agreed to establish a CENTRAL/CCTR Advisory Group, and Taddy was asked to convene this Group. Its remit is to make proposals as to how CENTRAL should be organised, and how the CCTR should be developed and maintained. The Advisory Group is accountable to the Steering Group through Taddy. The Steering Group supported the suggestion that the Advisory Group should be international, and should include Taddy, Mark Starr, Mike Clarke, Carol Lefebvre and Mark Lodge (as both a trials search coordinator and representative of the Steering Group). It was agreed that the Advisory Group should be kept small but that, in addition to being international, it should include adequate representation of collaborative review groups, including possibly a review group coordinator, a coordinating editor or a trials search coordinator from a collaborative review group. Mark Starr was asked to suggest to Taddy as soon as possible people with a particular interest in the specialised registers of CRGs.
Action: Taddy, Mark S.

(c) It was suggested that the CENTRAL/CCTR Advisory Group should communicate frequently, perhaps monthly, by teleconference. Because the Collaboration does not at this time have the resources to support these teleconferences, it was suggested that the members could rotate paying for the telephone calls.

(d) It was agreed that there is some urgency for this revised Group to be established, to develop a proposal or set of options for ensuring that the CCTR is cleaned up as soon as possible, and to ensure that CENTRAL is maintained and kept available. Mark Starr reported that at present CCTR includes only those records from MEDLINE that meet the inclusion criteria plus those records from EMBASE that are provided by Carol Lefebvre and Mike Clarke, a total of 117,190 records. Everything else is tagged as "Not yet assessed" and is consequently part of CENTRAL. Mark Starr said that the worst case scenario is to remove from The Cochrane Library all records that do not meet the inclusion criteria. However, he does not think this is a practical solution, given that The Cochrane Library is the only vehicle we have for disseminating CENTRAL.
Action: Taddy

(e) Mark agreed to remove immediately the acknowledgements of contributions to the CCTR from The Cochrane Library until such time as all contributions have been included in those acknowledgements. The CENTRAL/CCTR Advisory Group will decide how to handle acknowledgements in the future. Taddy will put together a complete list of acknowledgements to go on The Cochrane Library as soon as possible.
Action: Mark S., Taddy

(f) The terms of reference for the TRDG were not discussed in detail. Taddy was asked to report back to the Steering Group's Executive with suggested terms of reference for the TRDG in light of the establishment of the CENTRAL/CCTR Advisory Group. This should be done in time for consideration during its teleconference on 26th March if possible; otherwise, for consideration during its April teleconference (date as yet unknown).
Action: Taddy

(g) It was reconfirmed that Taddy was invited to Steering Group meetings (as convenor of the TRDG and the new CENTRAL/CCTR Advisory Group), although the Collaboration is unable to provide funding for this. Jini was asked to send her all minutes of Executive and Publishing Policy Group meetings in future, as well as agendas, background papers and minutes of Steering Group meetings.
Action: Jini

16. Publishing Policy Group

16.1 Translations:

It was reported that Gerd Antes, Hilda Bastian, Xavier Bonfill and Alessandro Liberati had been asked during the last teleconference of the Publishing Policy Group to form a working group to develop a proposed policy on translations, in consultation with Mark Starr, and to bring their proposal to the full Steering Group when ready.
Action: Gerd, Hilda, Xavier, Alessandro, Mark S.

16.2 Use of the Cochrane logo:
In accordance with Item (4(e)(vi) of the minutes of the previous Steering Group meeting in October 1997, Jini was asked to remind Muir to provide guidelines on use of the Cochrane logo for consideration at the October 1998 Steering Group meeting.
Action: Jini

16.3 Editing of reviews:
Mark clarified Rachel Stancliffe's role in Update Software with regard to the editing of reviews, saying that her task was to identify directly to the CRGs the kinds of errors contained in their Group's reviews, rather than errors being edited centrally. However, he undertook to investigate whether the abstracts of reviews could be spell-checked and spelling errors corrected centrally by Update Software and other editing that might be done centrally.
Action: Mark S.

17. Any other business

17.1 The Constitution of the Cochrane Collaboration:
Jini was asked to check with the Collaboration's lawyers as to whether the names of the subscribers that are listed at the end of the Articles of Association can be removed as soon as possible. There needs to be a process to review the Constitution. The business about proxy voting at Annual General Meetings should be upheld. As the Constitution is written at present, the only people who can elect members to the Steering Group are the current members of it! It should be stated in the Constitution that there is an elected Steering Group. The length of time that a member can stay on the Steering Group is not stated. Hilda volunteered to work on reviewing the wording of the Constitution with Gill, and to produce a list of suggestions for amendments for the Executive Group. Gill will call the Charities Commission for advice on handling constitutional amendments.
Action: Jini, Hilda, Gill

17.2 Letter of support:
Doug Altman had urgently requested a letter of support from the Steering Group to accompany a project application to the Medical Research Council regarding the handling of continuous data, and supporting heterogeneity. There were no objections to providing such a letter. It was prepared by Andy and signed by Jini on behalf of Chris, and forwarded to Doug Altman.
Action: Andy, Jini

17.3 Closed meetings:
Paul was asked to communicate to the co-ordinating editors that the Steering Group had no objections to their holding closed meetings.
Action: Paul


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