The Cochrane Author Support Tool (CAST) is a major development in Cochrane’s technology and author support infrastructure. The CAST project will support authors in producing and maintaining quality Cochrane Reviews, providing integrated access to data extraction and data manipulation tools (Covidence and EPPI-Reviewer), and further enhance the current Cochrane Register of Studies (CRS) to store any collected study data - creating CRS-D (where the ‘D’ is for data).
Complementing Cochrane’s existing tools, the three component parts of CAST (Covidence, EPPI-Reviewer and CRS-D) will increase the efficiency of the Cochrane Review production process and improve access to study data. CAST will provide an integrated and intuitive environment for authors and editorial teams.
We recommend that Cochrane authors do not begin to use the Cochrane Author Support tools until the project’s official launch date. We will co-ordinate a formal and staged launch in the latter half of 2015.
Covidence will function as the primary data analysis tool for Cochrane authors, streamlining the production of standard intervention reviews. Covidence’s support of key steps in the Cochrane Review process, such as citation screening and Risk of Bias assessment, and improved links with RevMan will make the review writing process more efficient. This will be a tool that is framed around a quality user experience, tailored to Cochrane’s needs, with a focus on being highly intuitive for authors to use.
EPPI-Reviewer will bring complex analysis functionality to author teams and editors. The EPPI-Reviewer tool will ensure that reviews in complex areas are sufficiently supported, offering meta-analysis, framework synthesis and thematic synthesis. The EPPI Reviewer tool is already available at cost, but the CAST partnership will allow Cochrane contributors to use EPPI subscription free.
CRS-D (Cochrane Register of Study Data) will be a data store, for all study information, including extracted data. It will be a searchable, highly structured database which includes data from clinical studies and systematic reviews. All study data will be retrievable with a simple query to CRS-D. It will contain all CENTRAL records, all included and excluded studies, and other references in Cochrane Reviews, as well as all records in the CRS, unless flagged as “private”. Collating this information centrally, and making it available as a single package, has the potential to dramatically reduce duplication of effort within author teams, and forms a solid foundation for the Cochrane Author Support Tool.
The Cochrane Informatics and Knowledge Management Department (IKMD), along with the Cochrane Editorial Unit (CEU), will be communicating development progress and will engage with groups wishing to be early adopters for trialling the tool. Groups and individuals who are already familiar with Covidence may continue to use this tool but should recognise that, with development in process, frequent changes to the application will occur over the coming months.
Cochrane’s IKMD are leading this project, with support from the Editorial Unit, who represent the users (authors) of these tools. Please direct any questions to IKMD support address firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow updates on http://tech.cochrane.org.