Developing the links between Cochrane Methods Groups and Review Groups

Hands joined together

Robust and innovative methods are the lynchpin of Cochrane and our reputation for high-quality systematic reviews. Our future sustainability relies on our ability to attract and work closely with methodologists and researchers, ensuring methods are used accurately and implemented wisely.

Cochrane has 52 Cochrane Review Groups (CRGs) that produce our Cochrane Reviews. Reviews will use different methods depending on the specific research question that the review is aiming to address. Cochrane links up with the community that’s developing guidance and best practice for these different methods through its Methods Groups, of which there are 17, each dedicated to a certain method of review type.

Over recent years, Cochrane Reviews have become more complex as they incorporate new methods and other innovations. We therefore need to make sure that how Methods Groups and CRGs work together is sustainable in the long term.  

Understanding how to improve the links between Methods Groups and CRGs

In the second half of 2019, we interviewed the leads of all 17 Methods Groups to understand their experiences managing their Groups. To address the issues and suggestions that came out of this we developed some initial proposals. In April 2020, we held teleconferences with them to gain feedback on these proposals. In early 2020, we also ran a survey open to all CRGs to understand their methodological priorities.

The overarching feedback was the need to improve methodological capacity within Cochrane and build a wider, more fluid and inclusive methods community that spans Methods Groups, CRGs and all other Cochrane groups.

To start addressing this, we set out to create a new process for methodologists and researchers to sign up to a Cochrane methods community that: increases diversity and inclusivity; streamlines the process and unifies onboarding of new members across Methods Groups; enables members to maintain their own records, contributions and interests; and records members’ expertise and accreditations for specific Cochrane tasks.

As part of this, we are:

  1. Creating a single place to sign-up to the Cochrane Methods Network and specific Methods Groups
  2. Developing Cochrane's TaskExchange to better meet the needs of the methods community, CRGs and Methods Groups

Creating a single place to sign-up to the Cochrane Methods Network and specific Methods Groups

We are delighted that this is now live – see join.cochrane.org/what-you-can-do/methods. We welcome all who are interested in Cochrane methods or evidence synthesis methods to the Methods Network. Each person is able to choose which Methods Group(s) they are interested in and how they want to get involved. Those who sign-up are sent a welcome pack with details about the Methods Network, the benefits of joining, as well as how to get involved and stay up-to-date.

Developing TaskExchange to better meet the needs of the methods community, CRGs and Methods Groups

Within the Cochrane Methods welcome pack it highlights how to create a TaskExchange profile if you are interested in becoming a methods peer reviewer, advisor, or even author. It also shows how to get involved in other methods-related tasks across Cochrane.

In terms of developments to the TaskExchange platform itself, we are investigating what’s possible with current Cochrane platforms and what we should prioritise. Possible developments include updating the topics and skills list to represent the different methods-related tasks, as well as how to highlight level of experience and expertise in different areas.

We are developing guidance for CRGs and Methods Groups on how to use TaskExchange and Archie database to find those who can contribute to Cochrane Reviews or methods-related projects and tasks.

Our current plans take us to mid-2021 and will create a solid foundation to further develop the links within the methods community. Our aim is to build a broad, diverse and well-connected community of methodologists and researchers that fosters innovation and supports the continued production of high-quality Cochrane Reviews. These are exciting first steps and we are looking forward to seeing how plans develop over 2021 with the launch of Cochrane’s new strategic framework.

  • If anyone has any questions or would like more information on what’s included in this new item, please contact support@cochrane.org.
  • If you would like to join Cochrane's Methods Network, please complete this webform.

Ella Flemyng
Methods Implementation Manager

I would like to thank the members of the project’s Advisory Group: Tianjing Li (Methods Executive, Methods Group), Isabelle Boutron (Methods Group, Editorial Board), Larysa Rydzewska (Methods Group), Rachael Kelly (Managing Editors Executive, CRG), Lindsey Elstub (Managing Editors Executive, CRG), Rachel Richardson (Network Associate Editor) and Tess Moore (Methods Support Unit). I’d also like to thank the Methods Groups and CRGs who provided feedback that informed this project.

January 21, 2021