New policy for managing potentially problematic studies in systematic reviews

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Cochrane has launched a new policy for the management of potentially problematic studies that are eligible for inclusion in a Cochrane Review. The policy defines problematic studies as “any published or unpublished study where there are serious questions about the trustworthiness of the data or findings, regardless of whether the study has been formally retracted.”

This new ‘Cochrane policy for managing potentially problematic studies’ and its accompanying implementation guide provide detail on what Cochrane Review authors and editors should do when serious concerns are raised about the trustworthiness of included studies.

The new policy is available on the Cochrane Library as part of a new page bringing together Cochrane’s key editorial policies into one location. This new page increases visibility of important editorial policies, such as authorship and peer review policies.

There is an urgent need for a validated method to identify problematic studies in a fair and reliable way. In parallel with the development and launch of the new policy on managing potentially problematic studies, the Research Integrity Team are involved in research to develop ways to identify problematic studies. These projects form part of Cochrane's Research Integrity Agenda, which brings together and prioritizes research projects related to research integrity.

You can read more about the issue of problematic studies in relation to systematic reviews in an Editorial published on the Cochrane Library.

June 3, 2021