Strategic portfolio

Methods portfolio

Review Production portfolio

Publishing portfolio

Strategic portfolio

Project Title: Conflict of Interest (COI) Policy Revision

Project Lead: Ruth Foxlee, Senior Programme Manager

Objective: To implement the Cochrane revised COI policy.

The Governing Board approved Cochrane’s revised Conflict of Interest Policy on February 27th and it was announced on the March 16th. The policy will come into effect on October 14th 2020. Any new reviews registered or review updates that begin after this date will have to adhere to the 2020 policy. Reviews that were underway before October 14th must adhere to the 2014 policy. This long lead time will  give Cochrane Review Groups, authors and editors, time to familiarise themselves with the new policy and for the PRD/ITS teams to implement vital system changes to improve and streamline current declaration of interest processes.

A new Conflict of Interest portal is now available, providing:

  • Details of the revision process and supporting documents
  • Access the 2020 and 2014 policies
  • Details of any training events and sign-up links
  • Information about the COI Arbiters 

With this policy revision we recognized the need to review our current CoI governance structures and COI case referral processes. We have revised the Terms of Reference that govern the COI arbiters and panel and updated the COI case management workflow. These changes will be announced to the Cochrane community in June 2020 and will come into effect at the same time as the launch of the policy in October 2020.

Project Title: Author Charter

Project Lead: Rachel Marshall


Develop an author charter that describes agreed expectations between authors and Cochrane Review Groups to assure the equity and consistently high quality of the review process.

Project Title: Editorial Charter

Project Lead: Rachel Marshall


Develop an editorial charter that describes agreed expectations across Networks and Cochrane Review Groups to assure the equity and consistently high quality of editorial processes.

Project Title: High-profile reviews

Project Lead: Rachel Marshall


To develop and implement an agreed quality assurance process for high-profile reviews.

Update (April 9 2019): The draft identification criteria and a quality assurance management process have been developed by December 2018. An advisory group consisting of representatives from the community was convened and feedback on the documents was completed by January 2019 and presented to the Editorial and Governing Boards.

The next steps involve finalising the documents with the feedback from the Editorial and Governing Boards’ feedback and sending for sign off to the Editor in Chief. Hold the first teleconference with the Advisory Group and agree on an implementation, roll-out plan with the community for new reviews. The proposed plan for implementation is news item with links to the criteria, process and registration form on the community website, followed by three webinars across 3 different time-zones. The Advisory Group will meet every quarter going forward to access new submissions.

Project Title: Ibero-American Centre author mentoring

Project Lead: Sera Tort, Clinical Editor

A joint project between EMD and Cochrane Ibero-America to support four author teams by providing mentoring in their own language, including linguistic and methods support.

Methods portfolio

Programme Title: Content Strategy

Programme Leads: Kayleigh Kew, Senior Methods Editor & Ella Flemyng, Methods Implementation Co-ordinator

Update 19 June 2020:
The 2019 workplan for the current Content Strategy, in line with the objectives of the Strategy to 2020, included six key projects:

  • Explore the feasibility of clinical study reports (CSRs) as a data source in Cochrane Reviews
  • Scale-up living systematic reviews
  • Scale up network meta-analysis and define standards
  • Scale-up prognosis reviews
  • Implement the Risk of Bias 2 tool
  • Explore the feasibility of rapid reviews within Cochrane

Much has been achieved in each of these areas, which has been updated under the headings below with a summary of ongoing and future work. The unfortunate successive cancellation of strategic meetings and the Methods Team’s involvement in Cochrane’s response to COVID-19 have prevented key discussions and work to inform the Methods/Content Strategy. From June, the EMD Methods Team will be taking stock of what has been learned and achieved during implementation of the current Content Strategy and the response to COVID-19 to define future directions, objectives and workplans.

Clinical Study Reports

Explore the feasibility of using clinical study reports (CSRs) as the main source of data in Cochrane drug intervention reviews. If it is confirmed as feasible, three exemplar reviews should be initiated before the end of 2019.

Update 19 June 2020: Consultation in 2019 highlighted that using CSRs is feasible and at least five Cochrane Reviews planning to use them are underway. Resources were collated and a Clinical Study Report Working Group formed to support these review teams, and the EMD Methods Team will work with them to understand the challenges first-hand. Discussions to facilitate CSR access with regulatory bodies and data sharing platform have been initiated, Cochrane Germany held a CSR Methods Symposium in February 2020, and a number of advocacy activities have supported open access and use of CSRs.

Living Reviews

Create an infrastructure to support living systematic reviews across all Networks.

Update 18 June 2020:  The need to support frequent updating of key reviews during the COVID-19 crisis has brought the Living Systematic Reviews (LSR) project to the forefront of the agenda. The LSR Network are informing a Living Review and versioning project to progress the editorial and publishing processes required to support these reviews. The Living Evidence Network continue to support review teams with LSRs and have developed relevant guidance and training. Research is also underway on tech enablers for LSRs, implications for KT and language translation, supporting consumer engagement and supporting living guidelines.

Network Meta-Analysis

Develop standards and scaling up of Network Meta-analysis (NMA).

Update 19 June 2020: A series of Learning Live webinars were delivered between November 2019 and May 2020, version 6 of the Cochrane Handbook of Systematic Reviews of Interventions launched with a chapter dedicated to NMA, developments of the CINeMA app are underway and a Cochrane interactive learning module has been launched. The Methods Support Unit (MSU) are developing a protocol template and set of methodological expectations for roll out in 2020. 

Prognosis Reviews

Publish at least six Prognosis Review exemplars to streamline working arrangements between Cochrane Review Groups and the Prognosis Methods Group, and ensure editors and authors have the necessary guidance and support to design, conduct, report and assess prognosis reviews.

Update 18 June 2020: The process of scaling up Prognosis Reviews is well underway, with four published and 25 underway. Key developments to facilitate Prognosis Reviews in Cochrane include the development of templates for protocols, full reviews and peer review, in-person and online training resources, guidance on different steps in conducting Prognosis Reviews and the development of tools to support prognosis methods. This has been led by the Prognosis Methods Group and is supported by a network of prognosis review experts who are involved in peer review, training and developing the resources to support Prognosis Reviews in Cochrane. 

Rapid Reviews

Define a Cochrane Rapid Review, conduct methods research on vital points concerning the validity of rapid reviews, and determine the utility of rapid reviews in Cochrane.

Update 19 June 2020: The pace of the COVID-19 situation required timely answers and expedited processes, which led to the initiation of a Rapid Review service and the first Cochrane Rapid Reviews being published on the Cochrane Library. Work undertaken and interim recommendations made by the Rapid Reviews Methods Group (RRMG) have informed the work so far and templates, methods, and editorial processes will continue to be developed and evaluated in 2020. A Learning Live webinar to introduce the process and methods was delivered in April 2020.

Risk of Bias 2

Support the implementation Risk of Bias 2 (RoB 2) in all new Cochrane intervention Reviews that include randomized controlled trials initiated from 1 January 2020.

Update 18 June 2020: A phased implementation of RoB 2 is underway with 23 Cochrane Reviews in the pilot and an additional 38 in discussion to join. Key developments to facilitate the introduction of RoB 2 in Cochrane include the launch of version 6 of the Cochrane Handbook of Systematic Reviews of Interventions, detailed guidance from the Risk of Bias tools team, guidance on reporting considerations for protocols and reviews, guidance on using RevMan Web with RoB 2, a three-day, in-person training event for Cochrane Review Groups, ensuring RoB 2 compliance with Cochrane Interactive Learning, launching a Learning Live webinar series, RoB 2 tools and updates to data collection tools. The Methods Support Unit and EMD Methods Team, supported by the Bias Methods Group, are working closely with the author teams and CRG staff with Reviews in the pilot to ensure they have the support they need to use RoB 2 accurately and build methodological expertise within the CRGs and Networks.

Project Title: Methods Support Unit

Project Leads: Kayleigh Kew, Senior Methods Editor & Kerry Dwan, Statistical Editor and Methods Support Unit Lead.


Establish a Methods Team to provide support to Cochrane Review Group Networks.

Update 18 June 2020: The Methods Support Unit (MSU) was launched officially in October 2019. The MSU team is led by Kerry Dwan (Statistical Editor and MSU Lead), and includes a Methodology Editor (Tess Moore) and an Epidemioloy Editor (Andy Anglemyer). The team works closely with Cochrane Review Groups (CRG) and CRG Network staff to improve the consistency and methodological quality of Cochrane Reviews and provides a broad range of support, peer review and training for established and more complex methods. Information about how to request support from the MSU can be found here.

The MSU responded to a total of 253 queries from all eight CRG Networks between October 2019 and June 2020. Requests most commonly relate to network meta-analyses, RoB2, non-randomised studies of interventions, and complex issues in standard intervention reviews. In the future, the MSU hopes to use the type and nature of requests it sees to identify common errors and provide targeted training to improve the exemplary use of both standard and more complex methods in Cochrane Reviews.

Review Production portfolio

Project Title: CRG Networks Innovation Fund

Project Leads: Toby Lasserson, Deputy Editor in Chief and Rachel Marshall, Senior Editorial Officer.

Manage a fund which will support review production and/or editorial procedures that lead to harmonization of processes and improvements in content or quality across the CRG Networks and the Cochrane Library.

Update (April 9 2019): The following project milestones have been completed:

  1. The CRG Networks Innovation fund proposal was launched in February 2019 with acceptance of submissions until mid-April 2019.
  2. Evaluation criteria have been developed and an advisory group convened to evaluate applications.

Advisory group members will evaluate the submissions and successful applicants will be notified in May 2019.

Project Title: Fast-Track Service

Project Leads: Toby Lasserson, Deputy Editor in Chief and Rachel Marshall

To publish up to three high priority reviews per CRG Network within a timeframe of 12-19 weeks.

Update (April 9 2019): Since its launch in September 2018 we have received 14 enquires, have published two reviews (from the Acute and Emergency Care Network) within 12 and 17 weeks respectively and have three reviews in progress. We have also rejected four applications based on our acceptance criteria. We have also developed checklists and templates to ensure the editorial process is as efficient as possible.

Publishing portfolio

Project Title: Cochrane Library Comment Publishing

Project Lead: John Hilton, Senior Editor, Publishing Operations

The Cochrane Library has a system to enable users to submit Comments on articles in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. We are currently working to improve the processes and tools by which Comments are managed and published, so that Cochrane Review Groups are able to more rapidly publish Comments on the Cochrane Library. A revised process, workflow, and publishing system has been set up and tested, and there has been further work to make technical improvements. Implementation of the new process and tools is being planned (2 June 2020).