Cochrane is undertaking a project aiming to improve editorial integrity and efficiency. There are two workstreams within the project – Workstream 1 Scaling up and piloting a Centralized Editorial Service and Workstream 2 Consultation with all CRGs on the future of producing reviews in Cochrane. Full details of the project are included on this page. If you have any questions on the below, please use this query form.
Producing Cochrane Reviews to a high standard has always been challenging. Differences in how groups are funded, and how they are able to prioritize their workload, has the potential to create imbalances in Cochrane Review output, quality, and timeliness.
In addition, Cochrane Review Groups (CRGs) have historically had dual roles – supporting authors and making editorial decisions. The longstanding author support role that CRGs have fulfilled can blur the lines between authorship and editorial review and sometimes makes it difficult to guarantee editorial independence. The significant investment of staff time and effort in developing a review is often not formally recognized and may also make rejection decisions more difficult.
The Governing Board has reiterated Cochrane’s commitment to open access publishing by 2025. This shift in the publishing landscape, along with the challenges outlined above, makes it necessary for Cochrane to identify new ways of improving editorial integrity and efficiency in our processes.
To address these challenges the Editorial and Methods department proposed a pilot project, which was approved by the Governing Board in March, 2021.
Workstream 1 will be led by Rachel Marshall and will be dedicated to scaling up the Centralized Editorial Service (including increasing the Fast-Track Service for high-priority and high-profile reviews) and piloting the independent editorial process with up to 20 CRGs to test feasibility and gather key learnings.
Workstream 2 will be led by Ruth Foxlee and will focus on a consultation process with the CRGs to better understand the benefits and challenges of delivering a Centralized Editorial Service and an opportunity to discuss other issues and suggestion in relation to the future of producing reviews in Cochrane.
The pilot will begin with six CRGs drawn from a pool of CRGs that have expressed an interest in participating. The names will be announced on this site once the six CRGs have been confirmed. This first set of CRGs will have an independent editorial process conducted by the Centralized Editorial Service, for protocols, reviews and updates submitted during the project.
- The CRG will support the review up until the point where it needs to go to external peer review.
- The Centralized Editorial Service, with input from the Networks, will manage the editorial process from peer review to publication.
Later in the pilot, more CRGs will be invited to participate. We will aim for a mix of CRGs with different staffing and funding levels, in different geographic locations, and will target CRGs with both broad and narrow scopes. As more CRGs join the pilot we will test the centralized editorial process in other ways. For example, CRGs may have a random selection of reviews sent to the editorial service, or some other subset of reviews.
We aim to have a total of up to 20 CRGs involved in the pilot.
The consultations process will begin with the CRGs that are entering the pilot first and run throughout 2021. By the end of the year all CRGs will have an opportunity to:
- discuss how CRGs are currently managing the challenges of editorial integrity and efficiency;
- explore any other ideas that CRGs may have in relation to improving editorial integrity and efficiency;
- understand the concerns of the CRGs and their expectations of what a Centralized Editorial Service would provide;
- hear ideas that can be used to scope out the resource and training needs;
- voice CRG concerns about how open access arrangements could impact on them and their ideas about how to meet Cochrane’s open access publishing ambitions and obligations.
The feedback from the consultation will be written up to accompany the pilot report and will be made available to the Governing Board when they assess the outcomes of the pilot.
We will update the community regularly through the monthly Editor in Chief webinars and the Editor in Chief’s fortnightly ‘Editorial update’ email to the Community. As CRGs join the pilot, they will be announced on this webpage.
At the Editor in Chief webinar on February 1, 2021 we received several questions about the pilot and have provided answers here. As we receive queries from the community we will create a space for Frequently Asked Questions and add to this over the course of the project. If you have further questions about this project, please use this query form.
Site last updated: 22 March 2021