Editor in Chief’s Unit projects 

Editorial Policy & Publishing Unit

Review Methods and Quality Unit


Editor in Chief’s Unit

Programme Title: Content Strategy

Programme Leads: Toby Lasserson, Senior Editor (Methods Support and Development) & Ella Flemyng, Methods Implementation Co-ordinator
Contact: tlasserson@cochrane.org; eflemyng@cochrane.org

The Content Strategy Programme contains several projects:

Clinical Study Reports

Explore the feasibility of using Clinical Study Reports 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 (9 April 2019): A planning group has been formed and meeting delegates invited to an exploratory meeting scheduled for May 16, 2019 in London.

Living Reviews

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

Project Update:
An evaluation of the Living Systematic Review (LSR) pilot has been finalised and a manuscript for publication in preparation. The LSR Network now has almost 250 members.

Network Meta-Analysis

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

Update (9 April 2019): A project proposal and funding request is being prepared. Handbook chapters and a Cochrane interactive learning module have been launched. Next steps include developing a set of methodological expectation; create a network of NMA experts and submit a special session or workshop for the 2019 Colloquium.

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 (9 April 2019): The following milestones have been achieved:

  1. A series of templates for registering a title and writing a protocol and a review are available
  2. A variety of tools and guidance are available
  3. 21 reviews across different CRGs initiated or completed
  4. GRADE guidance for the different prognosis review types is defined or underway.
  5. A network of prognosis review experts created

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.

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 (9 April 2019): An RoB 2 training event was held at the Cochrane Governance meeting in Poland (April 2). The Methods Training event in the UK has been confirmed for July 2019. RoB 2 has been incorporated in to RevMan Web and Cochrane Handbook, MECIR and the Cochrane Interactive Learning module have been updated.

Project Title: Conflict of Interest (COI) Policy Revision

Project Lead: Ruth Foxlee, Senior Advisor to the Editor in Chief
Contact: rfoxlee@cochrane.org

Revise the COI policy to improve clarity, incorporate non-financial conflicts into the policy and develop a training and implementation plan.

Update (April 16  2019): The following project milestones have been achieved:

  1. A literature review of other organisations’ COI policies, and published COI research
  2. An open survey to ascertain opinions about Cochrane’s policy from people both in and outside Cochrane
  3. Sixteen in-depth interviews with key Cochrane stakeholders and COI expert

Reports of all three project components will be delivered by mid-May, 2019 and used to inform a recommendation paper and revised COI policy draft for Governing Board approval in July 2019.

Project Title: Ibero-American Centre author mentoring

Project Lead: Sera Tort, Clinical Editor
Contact: stort@cochrane.org

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.

Project Title: Methods Support Team

Project Lead: Toby Lasserson, Senior Editor (Methods Support and Development)
Contact: tlasserson@cochrane.org

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


Editorial Policy & Publication Unit

Project Title: Cochrane Library Comment Publishing

Project Lead: John Hilton, Editor, Digital Publishing
Contact: jhilton@cochrane.org

As part the new Cochrane Library platform we developed plans to improve the submission, display, and publishing of Comments on articles in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR). The changes were introduced for the launch of the new platform in August 2018, but the publishing aspects had to be delayed until after launch. We are now implementing these changes. The project goal is to fully implement a new system for publishing Comments on CDSR articles, accompanied by a revised workflow clarifying roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders.

Update (28 March 2019): The new Cochrane Library platform launched in August 2018 included improvements to the way Comments on CDSR articles are submitted and displayed. Coupled with this is a new mechanism for publishing Comments that are submitted via the Cochrane Library. This functionality is in place, but we have not been able to make it broadly available to Cochrane Review Groups (which have responsibility for publishing Comments), due to the need for some further configuration work to ensure usability and security. We are keen for Cochrane Review Groups to make use of the new publishing tool, which avoids the need to use Archie/RevMan to publish Comments and enables the full set of improvements to Comment display. To speed up and simplify the implementation of the new Comment publishing system, we are now working on a different approach in which named people in the Editorial & Methods Department publish the Comments in collaboration with Cochrane Review Groups.

Project Title: Editorial Management System Project (EMS) strategy

Project Lead: MacLehose, Senior Editor, Editorial Policy & Publication and Gert van Valkenhoef, ITS Manager
Contact: hmaclehose@cochrane.org; gvanvalkenhoef@cochrane.org

Cochrane is currently reviewing the editorial management systems used by our editors and authors to prepare Cochrane Reviews, and the other content published in the Cochrane Library.

Cochrane uses several editorial management systems (EMS) to manage its content. The primary system used for Cochrane Reviews is Archie, which was developed in-house in 2003. Limited investment in recent years has caused Archie to fall behind the technological curve and the system does not meet all the desires of our users. The EMS marketplace has evolved since 2003.

Cochrane needs to find or develop a sustainable editorial management solution that will serve the needs of our audience and contributors. The time to evaluate our technical needs and options is now. 

Cochrane requires an EMS that meets user needs, accommodates different content types, and is sustainable. This programme of work forms part of an organizational Target in 2019 which aims to evaluate, plan and begin implementation of an improved editorial management solution for Cochrane Review production.

Update (19 August 2019): Origin Editorial, the consultancy team engaged by Cochrane to lead the analysis, is working on the initial assessment phase of the EMS project. This involves securing user feedback regarding current editorial and peer review operations in addition to reviewing the existing systems and documentation. The team is obtaining feedback via targeted interviews, conference calls, surveys, and email. Cochrane members and staff should feel free to contact the project lead, Dave Allen (dallen@origineditorial.com), at any time to provide feedback or request a meeting.

About Origin: Origin Editorial (http://origineditorial.com) is a full-service editorial office collaboration, managed, and staffed, by industry recognized thought-leaders on peer review management best practice and journal business operations. The Origin team has considerable experience using multiple editorial management systems and has previously been called upon to advise developers of these systems on functionality needs and to facilitate an understanding of how editorial office users interact with such systems. Origin is also regularly engaged to advise journals and publishers alike on optimal peer review management workflows for a variety of stakeholders.

The principal project leads will be Jason Roberts, Senior Partner at Origin Editorial and David Allen. Jason Roberts has blended 3 career paths (publisher, peer review management and research in to peer review and publication ethics) to become a leading voice in the industry on the improvement in peer review management with a view to elevating the quality of published research. He is a past president of the International Society of Managing and Technical Editors and resides in Ottawa, Canada. David Allen has 19 years of medical publishing experience including being a former director of publications for the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research as well as a former Publisher for Elsevier. He has extensive experience with multiple editorial management systems and has undertaken several system implementations for a variety of publications. David is based in South Carolina, USA.

Project Title: Update Classification System publication

Project Lead: Harriet MacLehose, Senior Editor, Editorial Policy and Publication
Contact: hmaclehose@cochrane.org

The Updating Classification System (UCS) guides readers as to whether a Cochrane Review is up to date, likely to be updated in future, or does not need updating currently. It can also help Cochrane Review Groups (CRGs) prioritize individual reviews. The current version of the UCS was published in 2014 after a consensus workshop in Canada on updating systematic reviews. CRG staff can apply this to reviews in Archie; see guidance. The decision framework asks about the usage and currency of the review question, the availability of new studies or information, and the impact of new information on the review; and also whether new methods will affect the review. We were unable to publish this information alongside the reviews on the old Cochrane Library platform, but with the new platform released in August 2018, we are now in a position to start the publication.

The Editor in Chief and Editorial Board approved the start of publication of UCS information in December 2018. A project was set up to ensure that the publication criteria were agreed and met, and that support and training is available to all CRG teams. Our goal is for all CRGs to have started publishing the ‘update status’ for published Cochrane Reviews (intervention and DTA) – as a minimum all reviews published in 2018/19 – by the end of 2019.

Update (7 May 2019): A pre-publication checklist (for the initial batch of update status information) has been agreed. Four Cochrane Review Groups (CRGs) are applying this to the update statuses from their CRGs, and the plan to publish these data in May. This will allow the publication to be checked in the ‘live’ environment prior to wider roll-out. Please note that this will not impact CRGs that are not ready to publish their classifications.

An updated version of the UCS guide is available with the following updates: 1) figures have been updated to reflect the new visual format of UCS information on the Cochrane Library; 2) new sections on Archie searches to help identify UCS by CRG; and 3) an Appendix with examples of commonly occurring issues that may arise when populating the UCS Rationale and free-text Explanation field in Archie, along with suggestions of how to approach or improve them.

The UCS Project Team is also currently setting up a strategy team to discuss queries, focusing on implementation of the UCS.  We are continuing work on developing a UCS training and support programme. A new email address has been set up for all queries relating to the UCS: ucs@cochrane.org.


Review Methods & Quality Unit

Project Title: Author Charter

Project Lead: Karla Soares-Weiser, Deputy Editor in Chief
Contact: ksoares-weiser@cochrane.org

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: Karla Soares-Weiser, Deputy Editor in Chief
Contact: ksoares-weiser@cochrane.org

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 Leads: Karla Soares-Weiser, Deputy Editor in Chief and Tarang Sharma, Editorial Officer for CRG Transformation
Contact: ksoares-weiser@cochrane.org ; tsharma@cochrane.org

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: CRG Networks Innovation Fund

Project Leads: Karla Soares-Weiser, Deputy Editor in Chief and Tarang Sharma, Editorial Officer for CRG Transformation
Contact: ksoares-weiser@cochrane.org ; tsharma@cochrane.org

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: New review format

Project Lead: Karla Soares-Weiser, Deputy Editor in Chief
Contact: ksoares-weiser@cochrane.org

Develop a prioritised and costed list of potential changes to the structure and format of Cochrane Reviews with a proposed development and implementation plan to be undertaken over the next three years.

Project Title: Fast-Track Service

Project Leads: Karla Soares-Weiser, Deputy Editor in Chief and Tarang Sharma, Editorial Officer for CRG Transformation
Contact: ksoares-weiser@cochrane.org ; tsharma@cochrane.org

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.