What is the Cochrane COVID-19 Study Register?
The Cochrane COVID-19 Study Register is a freely-available, continually-updated, annotated reference collection of human* primary studies on COVID-19, including interventional, observational, diagnostic, prognostic, epidemiological and qualitative designs.
* Note: the register does not include in-vitro study references.
Cochrane's COVID-19 Study Register is "study-based," meaning references to the same study (e.g. press releases, trial registry records, preprints, journal pre-proofs, journal articles, retraction notices and expressions of concern) are all linked to a single study record. Search results display study records which contain one or more references for that study. Export files contain all the references, meaning export files may contain more records that search results. Tip: In the .csv export file, sort by the column "CRS Study record ID" to bring all the references for the same study together.
The aim of the register is to support rapid evidence synthesis, including Cochrane's work on Rapid Reviews in response to COVID-19.
Where do we source our references?
Data sources for Cochrane's COVID-19 Study Register currently include:
- Embase.com, provided under license from Elsevier**
- Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) via the Cochrane Register of Studies
- WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP)
We also monitor Retraction Watch. Retraction notices and expressions of concerns are added as references and linked to studies in the register.
** Search tip: To retrieve Embase.com references, conduct a search for the database name with an asterisk: Embase*
How frequently do we conduct our searches?
We search ClinicalTrials.gov daily (Monday-Friday); PubMed, Embase, ICTRP and medRxiv weekly; and CENTRAL monthly (after CENTRAL publishes at the end of each month).
Please note: while we aim to publish eligible records to the register as quickly as possible, separate searches of our sources may be needed to ensure maximum currency of search results for review production.
What are our search methods?
Search Strategies: Search strategies are designed for maximum sensitivity, to retrieve all human studies on COVID-19. No language limits are applied. Strategies are updated to account for changes to the COVID-19 study register's eligibility criteria, changes to database interfaces and ongoing search performance assessments. Please contact us to request previous versions of the strategies and the dates they were implemented.
The PubMed strategy was designed by Robin Featherstone MLIS, Information Specialist Cochrane Central Executive Team, and peer reviewed by Douglas Salzwedel MLIS, Information Specialist and Assistant Managing Editor Cochrane Hypertension. The PubMed search was validated Aug 2020 against a "gold standard" sample of 184 known PubMed study references on COVID-19. Sensitivity was 1.0 (i.e. all references in the sample were retrieved).
The Embase.com strategy was designed by Robin Featherstone and peer reviewed by Julie Glanville MSc, Independent Consultant and Co-Convenor, Cochrane Information Retrieval Methods Group. The Embase.com strategy was validated Aug 2020 with a sensitivity of 1.0 using a sample of 177 known Embase study references on COVID-19.
Current Strategy (last updated 2 September 2021)
(2019 nCoV[tiab] OR 2019nCoV[tiab] OR corona virus[tiab] OR corona viruses[tiab] OR coronavirus[tiab] OR coronaviruses[tiab] OR COVID[tiab] OR COVID19[tiab] OR nCov 2019[tiab] OR SARS-CoV2[tiab] OR SARS CoV-2[tiab] OR SARSCoV2[tiab] OR SARSCoV-2[tiab] OR "COVID-19"[Mesh] OR "COVID-19 Testing"[Mesh] OR "COVID-19 Vaccines"[Mesh] OR "Coronavirus"[Mesh:NoExp] OR "Receptors, Coronavirus"[Mesh] OR "SARS-CoV-2"[Mesh] OR "Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus"[Mesh]) NOT ("animals"[mh] NOT "humans"[mh]) NOT (editorial[pt] OR newspaper article[pt])
((('anti-SARS-CoV-2 agent'/exp OR 'coronaviridae'/de OR 'coronavirinae'/de OR 'coronaviridae infection'/de OR 'coronavirus disease 2019'/exp OR 'coronavirus infection'/de OR 'COVID-19 testing'/exp OR 'sars coronavirus 2 test kit'/exp OR 'sars-related coronavirus'/de OR 'severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2'/exp OR '2019 ncov':ti,ab,kw OR 2019ncov:ti,ab,kw OR (((corona* OR corono*) NEAR/1 (virus* OR viral* OR virinae*)):ti,ab,kw) OR coronavir*:ti,ab,kw OR coronovir*:ti,ab,kw OR covid:ti,ab,kw OR covid19:ti,ab,kw OR hcov*:ti,ab,kw OR 'ncov 2019':ti,ab,kw OR 'sars cov2':ti,ab,kw OR 'sars cov 2':ti,ab,kw OR sarscov2:ti,ab,kw OR 'sarscov 2':ti,ab,kw) NOT (('animal experiment'/de OR 'animal'/exp) NOT ('human'/exp OR 'human experiment'/de))) NOT 'editorial'/it) NOT ([medline]/lim OR [pubmed-not-medline]/lim) AND [1-12-2019]/sd
1 ("2019 nCoV" OR 2019nCoV OR "corona virus*" OR coronavirus* OR COVID OR COVID19 OR "nCov 2019" OR "SARS-CoV2" OR "SARS CoV-2" OR SARSCoV2 OR "SARSCoV-2"):TI,AB AND CENTRAL:TARGET
2 Coronavirus:MH AND CENTRAL:TARGET
3 Coronavirus:EH AND CENTRAL:TARGET
4 #1 OR #2 OR #3
5 2019 TO 2021:YR AND CENTRAL:TARGET
6 #5 AND #4
8 #6 NOT #7
COVID-19 OR 2019-nCoV OR SARS-CoV-2 OR coronavirus
COVID OR 2019-nCoV OR SARS-CoV-2 OR coronavirus OR corona virus
All new medRxiv records are imported each week into the Cochrane Register of Studies. Records captured by this strategy are then evaluated:
("2019 nCoV" OR 2019nCoV OR "corona virus*" OR coronavirus* OR COVID OR COVID19 OR "nCov 2019" OR "SARS-CoV2" OR "SARS CoV-2" OR SARSCoV2 OR "SARSCoV-2"):TI,AB
How do we screen our records?
Our search results are screened for eligibility by our machine learning classifier, Cochrane data curation specialists and information specialists, and volunteer citizen scientists. To assist with our screening work, please sign up for the COVID Quest! and COVID Quest Lite! tasks on Cochrane Crowd.
How do we define our study characteristics?
To enable filtering of search results, we add study characteristics (study types, aims, design and intervention assignment) to records in the Cochrane COVID-19 Study Register. For more information, please see our working definitions of study characteristics.
How do we use machine learning?
In January 2021, we implemented a machine learning classifier to help screen our search results. The classifier was developed, calibrated and validated using three independent datasets from the Cochrane COVID-19 Study Register. In the current workflow, records identified from PubMed and Embase are run through the classifier. Those that receive a score below the calibrated cut-point are tagged as ineligible. The remaining records are sent for manual screening. A detailed description of this workflow is available as an open-access publication:
Shemilt I, Noel-Storr A, Thomas J, Featherstone R, Mavergames C. Machine learning reduced workload for the Cochrane COVID-19 Study Register: development and evaluation of the Cochrane COVID-19 Study Classifier. Systematic Reviews. 2022 Dec;11(1):1-8. doi: 10.1186/s13643-021-01880-6
How do we evaluate the register?
We conducted an internal sensitivity evaluation of the Cochrane COVID-19 Study Register in May 2020 and a broader evaluation of the sensitivity, currency and accuracy of the register in November 2020. The November 2020 evaluation (full report and data) is available as an open-access publication:
Metzendorf MI, Featherstone RM. Evaluation of the comprehensiveness, accuracy and currency of the Cochrane COVID-19 Study Register for supporting rapid evidence synthesis production [published online ahead of print, 2021 Jun 5]. Res Synth Methods. 2021;10.1002/jrsm.1501. doi:10.1002/jrsm.1501
Embase.com records are provided under license by Elsevier. All rights are retained by the license holder.
Trial registry records are sourced from ClinicalTrials.gov and the World Health Organization's International Clinical Trial Registry Platform (ICTRP).
medRxiv preprint records are sourced from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, BMJ, Yale. We acknowledge the Stephen B. Thacker CDC Library for compiling and providing the medRxiv preprint records prior to September 2021.
This work was conducted within the CEOsys project (www.covid-evidenz.de), funded under a scheme issued by the Network of University Medicine (Nationales Forschungsnetzwerk der Universitaetsmedizin (NUM)) by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research of Germany (Bundesministerium fuer Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)), grant number 01KX2021.
Notes on Modifications
Study design characteristics and controlled vocabulary descriptors are added to source records to enable advanced search features.
Terms and Conditions of Use / Disclaimer
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Please direct any questions or comments about Cochrane's COVID-19 Study Register to firstname.lastname@example.org
Page last updated: March 2022