Learning from the changes in the Consumers and Communication Group processes

Learning from the changes in the Consumers and Communication Group

Dr. Sophie Hill, Co-ordinating Editor of the Consumers and Communication Group shares an overview of some of the changes in her Cochrane Group so that others in the Cochrane Community can learn from them. 

In the Consumers and Communication Group we have made some changes lately you might like to hear about as we are finding they greatly increase our control over work, enable us to be more responsive to policy makers’ issues, and are leading to a much more enjoyable time as Cochrane editors.

1.      Titles are open about two-three times a year. We advertise the opening times via our newsletter and website. Applications in each round are assessed together against rigorous criteria of relevance and quality. Recommended titles are then sent to editors for a final assessment. We set a very strict limit on how many are approved based on a forward assessment of our editorial workload. This is so we can be more timely in our comments. Check out our FAQs for potential new authors. 

2.      We have applied the Updating Classification System (UCS) in consultation with authors and it is likely that many of our older intervention reviews will not be updated. If they are, they will look very different and have new teams. To move to an update, a team has to meet very high standards in terms of vision for review, in-depth knowledge of evidence base, competence and resourced capability, and topic has to be a demonstrated priority. No team can update without approval. Read our detailed updating guide.  

3.      If context affects effectiveness, then increasingly reviews framed in 1990, 2000, or even 2010 are not necessarily relevant and evidence prior to these periods may not be relevant either. We will explore how this can affect updating of a small number of reviews where the social context or intervention has changed significantly.

4.      In-house, we are using sustained stakeholder engagement to re-shape and update a few priority reviews. We don’t just ‘consult’ our stakeholders: they are part of the decision making on what can go forward and how it goes forward. It is more interesting, produces more relevant reviews types and is of huge interest to our primary funder. Learn more about our priority reviews.

5.      We are changing the role of the external editorial group to be more strategic and no longer operational.

These changes are taking us over a year to implement and are building on earlier changes which increased the amount of funded technical editing time at the base. We also implemented policies around rejection, introduction of QESs, and non-acceptance of PhD students as lead authors. All policies are on our website.   
In the future, we will explore having:

  • At least one review that includes use of ‘big data’;
  • At least one living systemic review;
  • A ‘QES’ of grey literature, such a consumer reports.

Check out our latest newsletter and if you want to stay informed with the editorial changes we are making, please subscribe, or email me and I will make sure you receive the next one.  

Dr. Sophie Hill
Co-ordinating Editor,
Cochrane Consumers and Communication 




December 4, 2017

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