Cochrane Review authors and the Cochrane Review Groups (editorial bases) are expected to meet these minimum quality standards in their reviews. These standards guarantee consistency of methodological practice across Cochrane Intervention Reviews and are an important element of the quality assurance of individual reviews. All standards are qualified with the status of ‘mandatory’ or ‘highly desirable’. Mandated standards are essential and compliance is expected or an appropriate justification provided. Reviews that do not meet these standards should not be published. Earlier versions of these MECIR standards for conduct and reporting are currently in use and used to audit new abstracts and reviews. In our prepublication screening programme of new reviews, we used a subset of the standards. Subsequent to this initial implementation, the standards have undergone review and revision. We have now developed standards for updates and protocols.
We introduce each set of standards with key points and where necessary additional explanatory notes.
The MECIR standards represent a considerable amount of work from many people within the Cochrane community. However, it seems appropriate to single out Julian Higgins, Rachel Churchill, Toby Lasserson and Jackie Chandler for their commitment and resolve in pushing the process through to this resolution. That said, of course this does not represent the final word. Methods change and these standards will continue to be refined over time. We therefore welcome feedback from all of you who are responsible for delivering the standards, and hope that they are useful to you in producing and maintaining high quality, relevant reviews that can guide decision makers throughout the world, in pursuit of better health outcomes.