The future of evidence synthesis in Cochrane

In February 2022 the Cochrane Governing Board approved a new model for producing Cochrane Evidence Syntheses, which is designed to ensure Cochrane remains viable, sustainable, and focused on the greatest global health and care challenges now and into the future.

Organizational transformation on this scale cannot happen quickly, so we are proposing a change process of 3-5 years, with activities such as the piloting of 5-6 Thematic Groups helping us to refine the model. We understand that people have specific questions, and we'll answer as many as we can, but the uncertainty inherent in the transition period means we cannot provide answers to all questions immediately.  

We are striving not to disrupt Cochrane Groups with stable funding during the transition period. Review Groups, Fields and Geographic Groups in this category can largely continue to operate as they do now. The new model also assumes an ongoing role for Cochrane Methods Groups and Cochrane Consumers. How Cochrane creates evidence will change over time but the need for clinical, consumer and methods expertise will not diminish.

We are broadening opportunities to create Cochrane evidence through the option to propose a title centrally (more information here), which is now live and looking at ways to accept completed manuscripts centrally. The complete separation of evidence synthesis development from the editorial process is critical to the new model, so from Q4 2023 the editorial process for all Cochrane evidence syntheses will be managed through the Central Editorial Service, regardless of how they have been developed. 

Cochrane Groups will have time, over the next 3-5 years, to consider if, when and how they'll evolve as part of the new model. Some may become 'early adopters' through the Thematic Group pilots or perhaps explore the option of setting up a Cochrane Evidence Synthesis Unit in their region. We will work to support fundraising efforts in these areas and explore ways of providing administrative support to teams during the transition. We are committed to sharing change-related news through webinars, the Editor in Chief newsletter (check the Communications tab in your Cochrane account and choose 'opt in' to make sure you're signed up) and on this website. 

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This is just the beginning of a profound change for our organization and there is much work to be done. While some answers make take longer to find than others to, we ask you to contribute your questions, concerns, and ideas along the way. The decisions we collectively make now can build on our legacy and foster new opportunities for people to work together to address the most pressing of global issues.