What is the CRS-D?
For over 20 years, Cochrane authors, TSCs and editorial bases have been linking references to studies, extracting data about studies and putting those studies into reviews, as well as building up a database of over 750,000 references to randomised controlled trials (RCTs) – the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL). As a key component of the Cochrane Author Support Tools project (CAST), Cochrane is developing a new data store that links together data that has historically been fragmented. The Cochrane Register of Study Data (CRS-D) is bringing these diverse records into one place; links among items will be formalised, allowing everything that we know about a study to be retrieved with a simple query to CRS-D.
CRS-D will provide enormous opportunities to capitalise on the work done by the whole Cochrane enterprise and to exploit the links among different parts of the data structure. The CRS-D is the foundation upon which CAST is built.
What is stored in CRS-D?
CRS-D will contain all CENTRAL records, all included and excluded studies, and other references in Cochrane Reviews, as well as all records in the Cochrane Register of Studies (CRS) that are not flagged as “private”. In addition, CRS-D will store some data about studies that appear in reviews such as the characteristics of studies, the risk of bias tables and, where possible, the extracted or transformed data for the study.
What is not stored in CRS-D?
The CRS-D is not designed to manage Cochrane reviews, rather to manage the ‘building-blocks’ of reviews (i.e studies). All of the text that makes up a review will be stored and managed in the new Reviews Database, stored within in Archie, not in the CRS-D itself.
What is the benefit to Cochrane of CRS-D?
If you have a reference to a study the CRS-D will know its DOI and its PubMedID, it will know about all the reviews that the study appears in, all the other references to that study regardless of which review they appear in, the assessments made about the study in each of those reviews, and the data collected by authors about the study. Collating all that information into one place and making it available as a single package has the potential to reduce duplication of effort dramatically. It provides data to author teams that otherwise would take a long time to find and helps to facilitate development of other, innovative software to improve review production. CRS-D will also open up the possibility of sharing Cochrane study data more easily with other organisations, thereby extending the reach, influence and utility of Cochrane evidence. In addition, by separating the ‘building-blocks’ of a review from the process of authoring a review gives Cochrane a much more flexible and agile working environment.
How do I access CRS-D?
The CRS-D is a ‘server-side database’ so you won’t access it directly. Instead we are engineering CRS-D to allow consistent and comprehensive access to all its data for any software that has been granted access. In the first instance, the programs that access CRS-D will be CRS Web (the Web-based version of the CRS management tool for Trial Search Co-ordinators (TSCs) and editorial bases), CRSO (the online version of CRS CENTRAL records available for all Cochrane contributors), Covidence and EPPI Reviewer (the two other key components of CAST, to be made available to Cochrane authors and editorial bases).
The CAST project, of which Covidence, EPPI-Reviewer and CRS-D are components, is scheduled for completion towards the end of 2015.