"I hope to work with more researchers to study Cochrane reviews, to promote Cochrane reviews."
Yonggang Zhang, 2023 Bill Silverman Prize Winner
William (Bill) Silverman, MD
William (Bill) Silverman (1924-2004) was one of the founders of American neonatal medicine. He was honoured repeatedly as one of the pioneers in his specialty; however, he often evoked somewhat contradictory responses amongst his colleagues because he was in the habit of raising troubling questions about the scientific basis and ethics of his and their practices. Like many of the people who have helped to establish Cochrane, Bill Silverman could be regarded as a 'troublemaker'. As he reiterated frequently, however, criticism is a form of troublemaking that can help to drive progress. Furthermore, criticism should not be limited to examining the work of others, but should also include self-criticism.
Bill Silverman Prize
The Bill Silverman Prize is offered annually and explicitly acknowledges Cochrane's value of criticism, with a view to helping to improve its work, and thus achieve its aim of helping people make well-informed decisions about health care by providing the best possible evidence on the effects of healthcare interventions. The Cochrane Steering Group approved the establishment of the Prize in 2007, and it was awarded for the first time in 2008.
Please note that this Prize is not for the preparation of a Cochrane Review; rather, it is for a published paper which demonstrates originality and critical thinking, either in evaluating any aspect of the preparation, maintenance or dissemination of Cochrane Reviews or about the work of Cochrane more generally. It should be of high quality, have been accompanied by constructive suggestions on how the relevant aspects of Cochrane’s work could be improved; and have had, or is likely to have, a positive impact on the scientific quality, relevance and use of Cochrane Reviews.
Peer-reviewed papers that fulfil the criteria described above under ‘Purpose’, and were published in the twelve-month period from 1 April to 31 March are eligible for nomination. Papers of critique of a single Cochrane review are not considered for the prize.
Nomination process and deadline
The Central Executive Team issues the call for nominations via Cochrane’s mailing lists each year. Nominations can be made by anyone, including the authors of the publication being nominated.
Announcement of Prize recipient
The Bill Silverman Prize is awarded to the corresponding author of the selected publication, and comprises a cash award of USD $1,000 and a certificate. It is this person’s responsibility to distribute the cash award in a fair way to co-authors of the paper.
Bill Silverman Prize Committee
The Prize Committee comprises five members, at least three of whom do not have an active role within any Cochrane entity (other than, possibly, as an author or referee of one or more Cochrane Reviews). When one of the committee members stands down from the committee, the resulting vacancy is filled by the recipient of the most recent Prize (or a person chosen by the recipients).
Funding for the Prize
Bill Silverman’s family agreed to the establishment of this Prize, and Iain and Jan Chalmers contributed GBP £5,000 sterling of start-up funding. The Steering Group will determine the future of the Prize when this initial contribution has been exhausted and, if relevant, will seek to identify future funding. The Central Executive Team is responsible for administering these Prize funds.
Bill Silverman Prize recipients
Paula Williamson, for the paper ‘Assessing the relevance and uptake of core outcome sets (an agreed minimum collection of outcomes to measure in research studies) in Cochrane systematic reviews: a review
Livia Puljack, for the paper Risk of bias assessments for blinding of participants and personnel in Cochrane reviews were frequently inadequate
David Henry, for the paper Risk of bias in systematic reviews of non-randomized studies of adverse cardiovascular effects of thiazolidinediones and cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors: application of a new Cochrane risk of bias tool
The Prize Committee was unable to award a prize for 2016, as there were no eligible submissions received.
Saini P, Loke YK, Gamble C, Altman DG, Williamson PR, Kirkham JJ. Selective reporting bias of harm outcomes within studies: findings from a cohort of systematic reviews. BMJ 2014; 349:g6501.
Takwoingi Y, Hopewell S, Tovey D, Sutton A. A multicomponent decison tool for prioritising the updating of systematic reviews. BMJ 2013;347:f7191 doi: 10.1136/bmj.f7191 (published 13 December 2013).
Roseman, M, Turner EH, Lexchin, J, Coyne, JC, Bero, LA, Thombs, BD. Reporting of conflicts of interest from drug trials in Cochrane reviews: cross sectional study. BMJ 2012;345:e5155 [abstract].
Nasser M, Welch V, Tugwell P, Ueffing E, Doyle J, Waters E. Ensuring relevance for Cochrane reviews: evaluating processes and methods for prioritizing topics for Cochrane reviews. J Clin Epidemiol 2012 Apr [abstract].
Ford AC, Guyatt GH, Talley NJ, Moayyedi P, Errors in the conduct of systematic reviews of pharmacological interventions for irritable bowel syndrome. Am J Gastroenterol 2010; 105: 280-288; doi: 10.1038/ajg.2009.658. [abstract].
Biester K et al. High dropout rates in trials included in Cochrane Reviews. Oral presentation at the 14th Cochrane Colloquium, Dublin, Ireland, October 2006 [abstract].