Let’s meet the people who bring you Cochrane Crowd
Welcome to our first Cochrane Crowd Crew blog. This will be a blog series where Emily, Cochrane Crowd’s Communications & Partnerships Manager, interviews one of the fabulous Crowd team members, and shares what she discovers.
For this first chat, Emily spoke to Crowd’s Co-Lead Anna Noel-Storr about bringing up her daughters, her love of books, incessant email checking and why she’s still excited about Cochrane Crowd after all this time.
By the way, if you don’t know about Cochrane Crowd, first watch this 2-minute video.
Name: Anna Noel-Storr
Job: Co-Lead on Cochrane Crowd
Time on Cochrane Crowd: Started Cochrane Crowd! And its precursor.
Emily: So Anna, you’ve been working on Cochrane Crowd and its precursor, the Embase project for 6 years now. What keeps you motivated?
Seeing what can be achieved when lots of people work together is a pretty good motivator! We just crossed the 2 million classifications mark. These classifications have helped identify tens of thousands of randomised trials, a few thousand diagnostic studies, and meant that we’re no longer playing catch up with resources like Embase or ClinicalTrials.gov. Seeing progress like this is hugely motivating. We still have a long way to go but the work itself is incredibly satisfying. I think I might be the luckiest person to have this job.
Emily: What were you doing before Embase and Cochrane Crowd?
Before Cochrane Crowd came along, I was very focused on another area of work entirely. I was, and still am, based with the Cochrane Dementia and Cognitive Improvement Group and for a few years I worked intensively on an initiative to expose the highly variable quality of methods and reporting in studies to do with dementia diagnosis. I then worked on an initiative to try to improve the standard of reporting in future studies on dementia. It was fascinating work and I felt very fortunate to be given the freedom to work so much on it. I had to learn a great deal very quickly. If you’re interested in the area of dementia diagnosis, or over-diagnosis in general, then here are the links to the papers produced from this work https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23110863 and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24944261
Emily: What fun stuff are you working on at the moment?
We have lots of exciting developments just around the corner. I’m probably most excited by the roll-out of the new Crowd PICO task. It’s been much tougher than I imagined to get this task into shape and we know it’s not perfect yet but I think the community are going to enjoy it. We’re also, soon, going to roll out something called “Screen For Me”. This will be a new service where author teams can enlist the help of the Crowd for their specific reviews. And if those two developments aren’t enough, we’re also forming a new partnership with another great organisation but more on that soon.
Emily: Are you working on any great stuff outside of Cochrane Crowd?
Bringing up my daughters is certainly an adventure at times, but I think you’re asking me whether I have any hobbies or interests other than Cochrane Crowd (as if!)? If you take away Cochrane Crowd and the day-to-day chaos, I mean, fun of parenting, there isn’t a great deal of time left over but I do try to find a little time for extra-curricular activities. My daughters are both creative and love music, and they’ve inspired me to explore that side of myself more. I’m attempting to learn to play the piano. I’m comically bad at times but am slowly making progress. I also love drawing. I stopped drawing for about a decade when I was in my mid-twenties. When I finally picked up a pencil again, it was daunting but I’m so glad I did. With an intense job, and a young family, having a couple of very absorbing interests really helps to calm the mind!
Emily: What is something that most people don’t know about you?
I don’t actually like tea. Ha! I am of course kidding. Love the stuff.
I suppose most people don’t know that I don’t actually have a scientific background. I started out doing English Literature at university. I then changed to History and went on to do a Masters in History. I even started teaching History at one point before remembering just how much I had hated school and didn’t like being back there even if it was as a teacher rather than a student.
Emily: Are there any apps, software, podcasts or books you couldn’t live without?
I am one of those people who checks their email incessantly. I go through phases of trying not to, and I think I’m breaking the habit slowly but right now if you took that away I’d probably have some anxiety.
I’ve never really got into podcasts but I am considering it and would love some suggestions of good ones. I’ve recently started running and I think listening to a podcast might distract my brain from my complaining knees!
I have a fairly extensive collection of books. We are hopefully moving soon and I’m wondering if I should use that as an opportunity to cull my collection a bit but I’m doubtful I can. I have a few special books given to me on my 18th and 21st birthdays, but to be honest every book that I’ve enjoyed reading or connected with I wouldn’t want to see go! For example, and just to get a tiny bit sad for a moment, when my father was dying I had to travel to London a lot. During those difficult weeks I read three books that will always hold a slightly special meaning for me. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that the books become connected with the context in which they were read making some extra special because of what was happening outside of the story.
Emily: Finally, what advice would you give to your younger self?
I turned 40 very recently and found myself excited to get a new decade underway. My younger self was quite different from my aging self! I was an incredibly shy child. I was afraid of making mistakes, of making a fool of myself, and always worrying what others thought of me. If I was able to advise my younger self I’d say to really think about where you direct your energy: do you want to waste it worrying, or direct it towards things that matter – like Cochrane Crowd!
Support for Project Transform was provided by Cochrane and the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (APP1114605). The contents of the published material are solely the responsibility of the Administering Institution, a Participating Institution or individual authors and do not reflect the views of the NHMRC.