We define an LSR as a systematic review which is continually updated, incorporating relevant new evidence as it becomes available.
Practically, this means that LSRs:
- Are underpinned by continual, active monitoring of the evidence (i.e. monthly searches)
- Immediately include any new important evidence (meaning data, studies or information) that is identified
- Are supported by up-to-date communication about the status of the review, and any new evidence being incorporated
While core review methods are not fundamentally different to other Cochrane Reviews, an LSR should additionally include explicit, transparent and predefined decisions on:
- How frequently new evidence is sought and screened
- When and how new evidence is incorporated into the review
Living systematic reviews (LSRs) provide a new approach to support the ongoing efforts of Cochrane and others to produce evidence that is both trustworthy and current.
The concept of living evidence synthesis and related outputs, such as living guidelines, are of increasing interest to evidence producers, decision makers, guideline developers, funders and publishers, as a way to seamlessly connect evidence and practice.
The possibility of a scaled-up living evidence approach has only recently been within reach, due to a number of technological and data-related innovations, such as online platforms, linked data, and machine learning. Concurrently, research groups are embracing larger collaborations, open and shared data, and the growth of the citizen science movement, opening up the possibility of communities with a common interest maintaining high value datasets and associated LSR.
Cochrane authors and review groups planning to undertake a living systematic review are encouraged to contact the Cochrane LSR team at email@example.com for support with developing their protocol. We're here to help you work through the factors to consider when planning and conducting an LSR.
Project Transform evaluated LSRs as part of the Production Models component with the following groups:
- Cochrane Gynaecological, Neuro-oncology and Orphan Cancers
- Cochrane Heart
- Cochrane Acute Respiratory Infections
An evaluation was undertaken alongside the pilots to understand the feasibility of LSRs, implications for the people and processes involved and identify opportunities to refine the LSR model before scaling up. The final evaluation report is available to download here.
Following completion of the pilot, additional Cochrane teams are conducting LSRs, with the aim of at least one published LSR for each Network.
The purpose of this document is to outline the methods and production and publication models for pilot LSRs published on The Cochrane Library. It includes a protocol template for a Cochrane LSR.
This document is primarily designed to be a practical guidance document for the authors, Review Groups and Central Editorial Unit staff involved in the first round of Cochrane LSR pilots.
The approach described here is based on our review of current literature relevant to LSRs and consultation with a range of stakeholders, including the LSR Network, which includes members within Cochrane and beyond. The approach outlined is a work in progress. The ideas presented will be evaluated and refined on the basis of the pilot Reviews.
- Publishing living evidence [slides] and video (3 July 2019)
- Tech enablers for living evidence (20 May 2019)
- Living Network Meta-Analysis [slides] and video (21 March 2019)
- Getting better all the time: Considerations and approaches for LSR searching [slides] and video (July 2018)
- Practical experiences of piloting an LSR (May 2018)
- Living guideline recommendations: key challenges, questions and progress (April 2018)
- Introducing living systematic reviews (March 2017)
- Presentations from Living Evidence Network meeting, Cochrane Colloquium, Edinburgh (15 September 2018)
- Presentation from HTAi 2018 Advanced Information Retrieval on the Edge: LSRs (2 June 2018)
- Presentations from Special Session: From living systematic reviews to living recommendations, Global Evidence Summit, Cape Town (14 Sep 2017)
- Presentations from LSR Network meeting, Global Evidence Summit, Cape Town (12 Sep 2017)
- Report from Cochrane Canada Symposium, LSR Workshop (13-14 May 2017)
- Presentations from Cochrane Canada Symposium, LSR Workshop (13-14 May 2017)
- Living systematic review methods symposium slides, Cochrane Colloquium, Seoul (26 October 2016)
- Living Systematic Reviews: towards real-time evidence for healthcare decision making (12 May 2016)
- Publically available Mendeley Library with relevant references
- Useful LSR references and resources
- Expert Searching: Living Evidence and Living Systematic Reviews: What
You Need to Know (17 December 2018)
- Living proof of living evidence (25 June 2018)
- From living systematic reviews to living recommendations (25 June 2018)
- We've done it again! Fruit & veg LSR re-published in record time (22 May 2018)
- Living systematic review re-published in record time (14 February 2018)
- Living systematic review series published in Journal of Clinical Epidemiology (12 September 2017)
- First two living systematic reviews now live on Cochrane Library! (8 September 2017)
- LSRs: On the road with Annie and Julian (3 July 2017)
- Living systematic reviews are going live (28 June 2017)
The Living Evidence Network is an informal network that was launched in February 2016, with members including Cochrane and non-Cochrane researchers, policymakers and guideline developers.
The Living Evidence Network aims to:
- Share experiences, information and resources
- Further the thinking on the living evidence concept and methods
- Develop and refine approaches for Cochrane LSRs