Editorial and Publishing Policy Resource

This section includes information about Cochrane's copy-editing policy, the Copy Edit Support service, and the Cochrane Style Manual.

Copy-editing policy

All Cochrane Reviews (including protocols and updates) must be copy-edited before publication.

Copy-editing ensures that a review or protocol is: (1) free from typographical errors; (2) consistent with the Cochrane Style Manual and with internal consistency; (3) written in a clear and concise style; and (4) structurally complete and appropriately organized.

Copy-editing should not include substantial rewriting, technical editing, full checking of consistency of descriptions of findings, or extensive work on references or tables. These steps need to be completed ahead of copy-editing, under the responsibility of the Cochrane Review Group.

Copy-editing must be done by either a member of Copy Edit Support or an accredited copy-editor in the Cochrane Review Group (CRG). This policy was introduced in May 2012.

If CRGs wish to use a member of their editorial team to copy-edit Cochrane Reviews, the nominated person must pass, or have passed, the Copy Edit Support accreditation test. For more information contact Elizabeth Royle, Copy Editing Manager.

All Cochrane Reviews and protocols must follow the guidance in the Cochrane Style Manual.

Copy Edit Support

Cochrane’s Copy Edit Support team provides a copy-editing service for protocols and reviews ahead of publication, working alongside Cochrane Review Groups to enhance clarity and readability. Copy Edit Support is part of Cochrane's Editorial and Methods Department (formerly the Cochrane Editorial Unit) and supports the publication of high-quality Cochrane Reviews. Copy Edit Support was set up in 2004 by Cochrane’s publisher, Wiley, which continues to support the service. In January 2014 management of Copy Edit Support was transferred to Cochrane.

What are the standards used for copy-editing?

Copy-editors check submissions against the Cochrane Style Manual, and other Cochrane guidelines, including the Methodological Expectations of Cochrane Intervention Reviews (MECIR) standards, the Plain Language Expectations for Authors of Cochrane Summaries (PLEACS) standards, the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions, the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Diagnostic Test Accuracy.

How do I submit Cochrane Reviews (including protocols and updates) for copy-editing?

The Copy Editing Manager, Elizabeth Royle, can help with queries relating to copy-editing at any time in a review’s lifecycle. The more information you can provide (and the earlier the better) before it is submitted, the more Copy Edit Support can support you. For example, it is helpful to know the approximate word count, the number of tables, included studies, number of comparisons, and 'Summary of findings' tables, and anything notable or unusual about the review.

Please notify Copy Edit Support as soon as your review is ready for copy-editing. Send an email about the review to Elizabeth Royle. Please state the review title in the subject line of your email and whether the submission is a protocol, new review or an update. For new reviews and updates, please state how many included trials there are. There is no need to send a copy of the protocol, review, or update with the email message.

If a review is updated frequently or soon after the previous citation version, it may not be necessary to copy-edit all of the text. If you are submitting an updated review where this may apply, please notify the Copy Editing Manager on submission.

What if my review is urgent or there is a deadline for publication?

The Copy Edit Support team receives a growing number of submissions indicated as urgent for various reasons. While the Copy Editing Manager will try to prioritize your submission, this may not be possible if there are multiple concurrent urgent submissions. Please contact the Copy Editing Manager as early as possible if you have urgent work, and take extra care to ensure these submissions are ready for copy-editing.

Note that for reviews linked to funding from NIHR Programme Grants, NIHR considers reviews to be completed once Co-ordinating Editor sign-off has been completed.

How does copy-editing work in practice?

Members of Copy Edit Support copy-edit reviews in Review Manager (RevMan), using the following process:

  1. The Copy Editing Manager lets the CRG know which copy-editor will be working on the submission. The copy-editor is copied in on this response so that s/he is advised of the assignment.
  2. The CRG authorizes the named copy-editor to have the necessary Archie document permissions for the review to be copy-edited, and ensures that the review is in the 'Editorial' phase.
  3. The copy-editor checks the review out of Archie, copy-edits it (British or American English spelling; and provides notes/comments in the CRG’s preferred format), and checks it back in.
  4. The copy-editor informs the CRG when the review has been copy-edited.

When will I get the reviews back?

Copy Edit Support works to a schedule of returning copy-edits within two weeks of submission. Occasionally, submissions may take longer if the number of submissions requiring processing during a particular period exceeds the team’s working capacity, or if there is a problem in access being granted to a review once a copy-editor has been assigned. Copy Edit Support will inform CRGs if delays are anticipated.

What should I do after I get my reviews back?

The copy-editor will let you know when the review has been copy-edited.

Copy Edit Support copy-editors do not use RevMan's track changes function when they copy-edit reviews and protocols, because it slows down the copy-editing process to a degree that outweighs the benefits. Copy-editors will let you know about any important changes, and you can use Archie’s ‘Compare’ versions tool to see what changes have been made in detail. It is also possible to get a more detailed comparison of versions using Word (see guidance on Comparing version of reviews or protocols in Archie).

Once any outstanding queries have been addressed, the review or protocol can be approved for publication.

Note that any changes made post copy-edit must not reverse changes made by copy-editors in accordance with the Cochrane Style Manual, and in general changes should be avoided unless to resolve queries. If you have questions or concerns about the copy-editing of a particular review, please discuss them with the Copy Editing Manager.

What kind of copy-edit training does Copy Edit Support provide?

Copy Edit Support does not provide basic copy-edit training, but rather focuses on providing training in elements of Cochrane style. For further information, please contact Elizabeth Royle.

Copy Edit Support team

Cochrane employs a team of freelance copy-editors. The members of the current team are:

  • Kate Cahill
  • Clare Dooley
  • Jason Elliot-Smith
  • Meggan Harris
  • Anne Lawson
  • Anne Lethaby
  • Dolores Matthews
  • Heather Maxwell
  • Denise Mitchell
  • Vicki Pennick
  • Elizabeth Royle
  • Jessica Sharp
  • Deirdre Walshe
  • Lisa Winer

Copy Edit Support also recruits and trains new copy-editors periodically. For more information, please send an inquiry to Elizabeth Royle.

Cochrane Style Manual

The Cochrane Style Manual is designed to help review authors and people responsible for copy-editing to use a consistent style when copy-editing Cochrane Reviews and other Cochrane content.

All Cochrane Reviews and protocols must adhere to the guidance contained in the Cochrane Style Manual.

The Cochrane Style Manual does not explain how to prepare a Cochrane Review and does not cover every word choice or every context. Authors and editors will need to use their knowledge and judgement when applying the guidance, but any deviation should be for a good reason rather than personal preference.

For more information please see the following pages in the Manual:

The Cochrane Style Manual is maintained by the Cochrane Editorial Policy & Publications Unit (part of the Editorial & Methods Department) and the Cochrane Style Manual Working Group. It replaces the Cochrane Style Guide, originally developed by the participants of project called the 'Prospective copy edit pilot', that was approved for use within Cochrane on 6 December 2002.

Cochrane Style Basics is a shorter collection of essential style guidelines, intended for authors and others who need to understand the key points of Cochrane style.

Contact: John Hilton (Editor, Digital Publishing) or Elizabeth Royle (Copy Editing Manager) with any queries or suggestions for changes or additions.

Cochrane Style Manual Working Group

The Cochrane Style Manual Working Group contributes to the development and maintenance of the Cochrane Style Manual in response to feedback.

Members, to be nominated by the Convenor or Co-Convenors of the Group, and approved by the Editor in Chief, must be actively involved in copy-editing and proofing Cochrane content. The membership should include various Cochrane editorial roles, including Managing Editors, Information Specialists, Copy Edit Support members; at least one member should be based in a non-English speaking country. Members are expected to:

  • be familiar with the Cochrane Style Manual and related resources;
  • participate in meetings;
  • read and comment on circulated documents;
  • respond to electronic communications within agreed timescales;
  • help plan for the future development of the Cochrane Style Manual and related resources;
  • assist with publicizing the Cochrane Style Manual and related resources.

Current members:

  • John Hilton (convenor), Editor, Digital Publishing, Cochrane Editorial & Methods Department
  • Elizabeth Royle (convenor), Copy Editing Manager, Cochrane Editorial & Methods Department
  • Clare Dooley, Copy Edit Support
  • Luisa Fernandez Mauleffinch, Managing Editor, Cochrane Oral Health Group
  • Gillian Gummer, Copy Edit Support
  • Nikki Jahnke, Assistant Managing Editor, Cochrane Cystic Fibrosis and Genetic Disorders Group
  • Rachael Kelly, Managing Editor, Cochrane Epilepsy Group
  • Joey Kwong, Copy Edit Support
  • Harriet MacLehose, Senior Editor, Cochrane Editorial & Methods Department
  • Dolores Matthews, Copy Edit Support
  • Heather Maxwell, Copy Edit Support
  • Dimitrinka Nikolova, Managing Editor, Cochrane Hepato-Biliary Group
  • Tracey Remmington, Managing Editor, Cochrane Cystic Fibrosis and Genetic Disorders Group
  • Sera Tort, Clinical Editor, Cochrane Editorial & Methods Department

Previous members: Emma Tavender (Satellite Co-ordinator, Effective Practice of Care) provided advice and guidance for the 4th Edition (2008); Sonja Henderson (Co-convenor until August 2004); Vicki Sparkes; Susanne Ebrahim; Lesley Gillespie; Reive Robb (until 2007); Alison Beamond (until 2014); Kate Cahill (until 2017); Nancy Owens (until 2018).

The Cochrane Style Manual Working Group is supported by core funding from Cochrane, initially through the Quality Advisory Group (until April 2009) and then through the Cochrane Editorial Unit (from April 2009; now the Cochrane Editorial & Methods Department)

Contact: John Hilton (Editor, Digital Publishing) or Elizabeth Royle (Copy Editing Manager) at the Cochrane Editorial & Methods Department.

Section info
John Hilton (jhilton@cochrane.org)
Describe change
Update to refer to new version of Cochrane Style Basics.
Change date
5 December 2018