CRG Networks Innovation Fund 2019

CRG Networks Innovation Fund 2019

The CRG Networks Innovation Fund was launched earlier this year and here Tarang Sharma, Editorial Officer for the CRG transformation highlights its aims, the process and the successful applications.

The Cochrane Review Group (CRG) Networks have published their strategic plans, which identifies their individual priorities and goals to guide their work until 2020. An important role of the CRG Networks is to work to improve the review production process and continue the advancement in methods to improve the content of the Cochrane Library. For this to be done consistently across all the CRGs across all Networks, they need to work together to achieve harmonisation of processes.

The CRG Networks Innovation Fund was launched in 2019 to support projects that lead to harmonization of processes of review production and/or editorial procedures and improvements in content or quality across the CRG Networks and the Cochrane Library.

Application process

A call for applications was made in February 2019 which invited CRG Networks to submit applications that fit with the scope of the fund:

  • The project should demonstrate how it improves or harmonizes review production or editorial processes within Cochrane or improves the content or quality of the Cochrane Library.
  • The project should be innovative and develop or expand the service we provide to evidence users and decision makers (this could include activities around prioritisation, gap analysis (such as gap-maps), programmes of content, review process automation, KT activities etc).
  • The project could involve more than one CRG Network with elements that would be useful across different CRG Networks.

We received 10 applications from across the CRG Networks and the applications were assessed by an external Committee from the community consisting of Gert van Valkenhoef (Cochrane CET, ITS), Jimmy Volmink and Paul Garner (Editorial Board), Joanne McKenzie and Miranda Langendam (Methods Executive), using a pre-defined evaluation criterion.

The fund is supporting the top five projects as judged by the external Committee in 2019 and you can read more about them below.

Well done!

Successful projects

Obesity Gap Analysis & Prioritisation
Abdomen and Endocrine Network (in collaboration with Public Health and Health Systems Network)

Cindy Farquhar, Lisa Bero, Bernd Richter, Luke Wolfenden, Celeste Naude, Solange Durao, Liz Bickerdike, Rachel Richardson, Lee Yee Chong

Obesity is a significant public health problem: the Global Burden of Disease 2015 Obesity Collaborators estimate that since 1980 the prevalence of obesity has doubled in more than 70 countries and has increased in most other countries. This project is a collaborative prioritization initiative and will be carried out jointly with the members of the Cochrane Abodomen and Endocrine Network, the Cochrane Public Health and Health Systems Network and the Cochrane Nutrition Field.

The project aims to:

  • produce a comprehensive list of obesity titles published in the Cochrane Library,
  • map these to international consensus documents and establish evidence gaps, and
  • consult with key external stakeholders to identify priority titles in the field of obesity.

Read more about this project.


Using Microsoft Academic Graph and automation tools to establish and maintain new CRG Specialised Registers of Economic Evaluations
Children and Families Network
Luke Vale, James Thomas, Ian Shemilt, Lindsey Elstub, Eugenie Johnson, Sheila Wallace

Using conventional searching and study selection methods to identify economic evaluations for consideration in Cochrane Reviews is a resource-intensive task. This project will make the process of incorporating economic evidence into Cochrane intervention reviews more efficient, by reducing the study identification workload for review authors and editorial base staff.

It will achieve this aim by designing, evaluating and implementing a semi-automated workflow for establishing and maintaining CRG Specialised Registers of Economic Evaluations alongside existing CRG Specialised Registers of controlled trials. The project builds on current pilot work on using Microsoft Academic Graph (MAG) for study identification in Cochrane Tobacco Addiction, and on the methods, tools and workflows developed for Evidence Pipeline (part of Project Transform). It will work with Cochrane Incontinence using a similar approach – harnessing MAG’s graph structure in conjunction with machine learning classifiers – to support the efficient identification of economic evaluations for:

  • inclusion on new CRG Specialised Registers of Economic Evaluations; and
  • consideration in Cochrane Reviews.

This will create a step change in Cochrane’s capability to identify economic evaluations for reviews in a reliable, low-cost manner.

Read more about this project.


Public health relevance in Cochrane reviews
Public Health and Health Systems Network
Lisa Bero, Lee Yee Chong, Newton Opiyo, Celeste
Naude, Dr Rebecca Ryan, Sophie Hill, Simon Lewin, Paul Garner, Luke Wolfenden, Hilary Thompson, Paul Aveyard, Jos Verbeek

It is important for Cochrane to ensure reviews on public health topics are produced using optimal methods and perspectives that are relevant to various stakeholders. The complexity, scope, source of evidence and relevant outcomes of these public health questions pose significant challenges for authors and CRGs. They often need to use relatively new methods. A prioritisation exercise done suggested that author support tools that are pragmatic (user friendly, with examples) which help to clarify and connect various sources of guidance are critical to facilitate the production of high quality, timely and relevant public health reviews.

This project aims to improve the content, quality and relevance of the Cochrane Library by providing user-friendly author resources to optimise our reviews for public health-relevant questions. This project will deliver:

  •  author resources with illustrative best practice examples. This includes a series of flow charts to guide framing of questions, and deciding what study designs are appropriate for the perspective, context and PICO of the review question, and
  • (mapping of existing Cochrane author resources to the newly developed flow charts to existing Cochrane author resources/methodological guidance.

Read more about this project.


Instructions for inclusion and presentation of time-to-event outcomes in Cochrane Intervention Reviews – development of training resources
Cancer Network

Nicole Skoetz, Elvira van Dalen, Fergus Macbeth, Marius Goldkuhle, Catrin Tudur-Smith, Philip Dahm, Newton Opiyo

Time-to-event outcomes are widely used in Cochrane systematic reviews of interventions. The analysis of time-to-event outcomes is methodologically complex and the results are prone to misinterpretation by review authors and editors. This project aims to improve the quality of Cochrane systematic reviews that include time-to-event outcomes by supporting authors and editors to avoid common mistakes in their inclusion and presentation.

The project will:

  • Provide introductory learning materials to enhance the correct use of time-to-event outcomes and guidance how to avoid frequent mistakes (e.g. what are time-to-event outcomes, common methods to extract data and underlying assumptions need to be considered to analyse data).
  • Provide guidance for communicating results of time-to-event outcomes in Cochrane systematic reviews (e.g. in terms of absolute effects or median survival).

Read more about this project.


Optimal methods for the use of ‘pain’ as an outcome in systematic reviews of postoperative pain management
Musculoskeletal, Oral, Skin and Sensory Network
Christopher Eccleston, Andrew Moore, Emma Fisher, Neil O Connell, Nuala Livingstone, Anna Erskine

Many disease states are characterised by aversive physical sensations only observable by the patient. Pain, fatigue, itch, dizziness, and anxiety, amongst others, have no objectively definable referent and are only available as ‘private mental events’. The measurement of private mental events is the cause of much confusion in the fields of clinical trials and evidence synthesis. Pain as an outcome is a deceptively simple endpoint. To the lay-person it may seem simple; one wants to reduce pain. There are, however, multiple reasons why the decisions one makes about pain as an outcome are far from simple. Multiple sources of variance in the treatment of pain as an outcome translate into inconsistency and confusion.

The project will produce expert guidance on how to manage pain as an outcome in systematic reviews of post-operative care focusing on:

  • sources of heterogeneity in methods and reporting,
  •  the use of primary and secondary endpoints, including surrogate and indirect measures, (c) drafting a template and decision-making flowchart, and
  • testing that template and flow-chart with different reviews across the network.

Read more about this project.



11 June 2019

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