Cochrane begins Editorial Integrity and Efficiency Project

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Cochrane is pleased to announce the launch of a new pilot project that will investigate changing Cochrane’s review production processes. Over the coming 18 months, the project will:

  • assess an independent editorial process using the Centralized Editorial Service for Cochrane;
  • test the separation of responsibilities for developmental (authoring and author support) and editorial functions within Cochrane; and
  • consult with individual Cochrane Review Groups (CRGs) on the future of producing reviews in Cochrane.

Why undertake this project?

Producing Cochrane Reviews to a high standard has always been challenging. Differences in how groups are funded, and how they are able to prioritize their workload, has the potential to create imbalances in Cochrane Review output, quality and timeliness. 

In addition, Cochrane Review Groups (CRGs) have historically had dual roles – supporting authors and making editorial decisions. The longstanding author support role that CRGs have fulfilled can blur the lines between authorship and editorial review and sometimes makes it difficult to guarantee editorial independence. The significant investment of staff time and effort in developing a review is often not formally recognized and may also make rejection decisions more difficult. 

The Governing Board has reiterated Cochrane’s commitment to open access publishing by 2025. This shift in the publishing landscape, along with the challenges outlined above, makes it necessary for Cochrane to identify new ways of improving editorial integrity and efficiency in our processes.

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What will the project do?

In March 2021 the Cochrane Governing Board approved a project to help address these challenges. The Editorial Integrity and Efficiency Project will include two streams of work: Workstream 1 Scaling up and piloting a Centralized Editorial Service and Workstream 2 Consultation with all CRGs on the future of producing reviews in Cochrane. In the first Workstream, an initial group of 6 CRGs (later to be expanded for up to 20 CRGs) will have high-priority and high-profile reviews managed from external peer review by the Centralized Editorial Service. In the second Workstream, all CRGs will be contacted individually to provide their feedback on their processes to manage editorial integrity and efficiency, explore ideas of how to face the challenges Cochrane faces, and discuss CRG ideas and concerns.

Cochrane Editor in Chief, Dr. Karla Soares-Weiser, says, “This project provides us with an excellent opportunity to innovate and expand the fast-track editorial service that successfully handled high-profile COVID reviews last year, while exploring how to best scale up this work. It will be invaluable to discuss these plans with all CRGs, and I look forward to being in touch with our wider community throughout the course of this project.” 

Throughout the project, frequent updates will be provided on the project webpage, as well as in monthly Join the Conversation webinars and in fortnightly Editor in Chief update emails. To ask questions or provide feedback on this project, please visit this query form.

23 March 2021