Cochrane Collaboration
Steering Group Minutes

Cochrane Collaboration Steering Group business meeting Oslo, Monday 19 August 1996

1. Outstanding applications

1.1 Brazilian Centre

Registration of the Brazilian Cochrane Centre was approved. Iain Chalmers will discuss concerns of the CCSG with the Brazilian Centre when he is in Sao Paulo. Jean will write to the Brazilian Centre informing them of the CCSG decision. Action: Iain, Jean

1.2 Breast Cancer CRG

Registration of the Breast Cancer CRG was approved. Jean will write them and inform them of this decision and requesting that a few outstanding issues are clarified. Action: Jean

1.3 Placebo MG

MG applications are to go to the CCSG through the MG co-ordinator/rep (Andy Oxman). Andy will communicate this to registered entities. Action: Andy

It was agreed that the informal policy of having two convenors for each MG located in different countries should be kept as a formal policy. Andy will add this to the MG checklist and section of the CC module. Action: Andy

It was agreed that there should not be a Placebo Field.

It was agreed that the Placebo MG should not have as an objective to promote the use of the Placebo effect as an intervention. Peter will ask Jos Kleijnen to co-convene the Placebo MG. Registration of the Placebo MG was approved with the above amendments. Andy and Jean will draft a letter to the Placebo Field informing them of the desired changes. Action: Andy, Jean

1.4 Levels of evidence MG

Discussion of the application was postponed since most CCSG members had not received the application. It was agreed that this application should be handled by the Executive Group since it was submitted before the checklist and registration procedures for MGs were developed. The Executive Group will discuss this application during its next telephone conference. Andy will inform the applicants. Jean will send copies of the application to members of the CCSG. Action: Andy, Jean

1.5 Epilepsy CRG

Concern was raised about the narrow focus in terms of one discipline (neurology). Iain Chalmers reported that there already are plans to address this concern. Letters of support were not included with the application but have been seen by Iain Chalmers. The application was approved. Jean will write a letter notifying them of their registration. Action: Jean

All applications should include a checklist completed by the applicants. Peter will notify centres of this decision. Action: Peter

General satisfaction and gratitude was expressed regarding the Registrations group and Jean's chairing of the committee. Some concern was raised about how long it takes to process applications. It was agreed that people need time to consider and consult with others regarding applications and that rather than rushing the process we will notify people that they should anticipate that it will take approximately four months to process an application. A proposal to change the current timelines was rejected. Receipt of applications should be acknowledged immediately by Jean. Jean will draft a standard letter including a warning about how long it is likely to take to process an application. Brian Haynes suggested that comments about applications should be classified. His suggestion was accepted with the following modifications:

 prevents registration  needs to be clarified  curiosity

Jean will include this in her cover letter with new applications. Peter will notify Centres of the above decisions. Action: Jean, Peter

The field rep (Edward Dickinson) was added to the Registrations Group. The Registrations Group was asked to clarify the registration process for Fields. Action: Edward

2. Distribution of Cochrane Library

2.1 BMJ update

Much dissatisfaction has been expressed with distribution of the CDSR/The Cochrane Library by BMJ. Chris will re-negotiate the exclusivity clause in the BMJ contract. We will begin to explore other options for distributors as soon as possible. We will not break the BMJ contract before an alternative is in place.

The BMJ business plan submitted to the CCSG was considered inadequate. Specific comments on the plan should be given to Chris.

Chris, Edward, Dan, Muir Gray and Mark Starr will provide feedback on the BMJ marketing plan and look for alternative distribution arrangements Action: Chris, Edward, Dan, Muir, Mark

2.2 Developing countries

A letter from Richard Smith dated 3 July 1996 was discussed. He proposed that we should forego our royalties for CDSR to support a plan to distribute the Cochrane Library in developing countries. We decided a decision on this should be postponed until after a Publishing Policy Group is in place. This Group will address this following the CCSG meeting in Adelaide in October 1996. Chris will inform Richard Smith. Action: Chris

2.3 New requests

2.3.1 Reproductive Health Library

It was agreed that we do want speciality databases in principle. A general policy was suggested that for specialty databases all of the CRGs who are responsible for reviews that will be included should be consulted. This was agreed. We currently have a contract with BMJ that prohibits specialty databases if we do not go through BMJ. We need to resolve how to divide any royalties from specialty databases. This issue will need to be addressed by the Publishing Policy Group. Suggestions regarding what should and should not be called a Cochrane Collaboration' product. An ad hoc Publishing Policy Group was formed to take these issues forward between now and October and come back with some specific proposals. Membership of the Group includes Monica, Hilda, Cindy, Edward. They will seek help from wherever they need and can get it. Monica will convene the ad hoc Group. Chris will get back to the people who proposed the Reproductive Health Library. Action: Chris, Monica, Hilda, Cindy, Edward

1. Update - BioMed Net

This was referred to the ad hoc Publishing Policy Group who will report back to the CCSG. This proposal will be covered by the contract with Update establishing the relationship between the CC and Update, as discussed during the strategic planning meeting. It is anticipated that the CC-Update contract will be finalised in two to three months. Chris will inform Mark Starr. Action: Chris, Monica, Hilda, Cindy, Edward

It was proposed that all proposals for publications and distribution should address fiscal issues and the financial plan of the CC. This will be followed up by the ad hoc Publishing Policy Group or passed on to the permanent Publishing Policy Group once it is formed. Action: Monica, Hilda, Cindy, Edward

2.3.3 Australasian Centre - abstracts on Internet

It was agreed in principle that the ACC should put the abstracts on the Internet. Iain will confirm that this is not in violation of the BMJ contract. Action: Iain, Chris

Monica reported that the Canadian Centre may have the Parent Database on their Web site. She will confirm this and if it is the case notify them that they need to take it off. Action: Monica

2.3.4 DIMDI

This proposal was looked on very positively. It represents a good opportunity that may be time limited. Iain will get back to Jos Kleijnen who forwarded the DIMDI proposal to the CCSG and DIMDI, and let them know we are grateful for the opportunity, very interested and will get back to them in early November or as soon as possible after the Publishing Policy Group is up and running. He will copy the letter to Monica. Action: Iain

2.3.5 Neonatal CRG proposal

A proposal from Jack Sinclair re allowing the Neonatal module to be put on the NIH Internet site was discussed. It was agreed that the definition of a Cochrane Review should include that it is a review in the Parent Database. Reviews not in the Parent Database can be published by reviewers, CRGs or others (with permission of the reviewers), but cannot be called Cochrane Reviews. The following definition of a Cochrane Review' was agreed and will be published in Cochrane News':

A Cochrane Review is a systematic, up-to-date summary of reliable evidence of the benefits and risks of healthcare. Cochrane Reviews are intended to help people make practical decisions. For a review to be called a Cochrane Review' it must be in the Parent Database maintained by the Cochrane Collaboration. The Parent Database is composed of modules of reviews submitted by Collaborative Review Groups (CRGs) registered with the Cochrane Collaboration. The reviews contributed to one of the modules making up the Parent Database are refereed by the editorial team of the CRG, as described in the CRG module. Reviewers adhere to guidelines published in the Cochrane Handbook. The specific methods used in a Review are described in the text of the review. Cochrane Reviews are prepared using Review Manager software provided by the Collaboration and adhere to a structured format that is described in the Handbook. Action: Hilda

It was decided that before we can give Jack Sinclair an answer we need to sort out the BMJ contract. Chris will draft a letter to Brian Haynes informing him of this. Action: Chris

3. Core functions

3.1 Trials Registers Development Group

Chris will add to the strategic plan under the strategy ensuring access to trials' (1.4) for the objective of high quality reviews' that development of trials registers & an international trials register is not a short term priority but is a long term objective. People interested in this objective should be encouraged to register as an MG and work on methods that might enable achieving this objective in the long term. The proposal goes beyond the mandate of what we proposed as a core function. We believe what they are proposing is important and fully support it. However, it is not a priority at this point in time. We have concerns about their proposal not addressing the needs of CRGs and, in fact, placing additional burden on CRGs. We have taken their advice and taken control of CCTR. We have taken their advice and taken steps to index CCTR. In light of the above we are in doubt about whether the MEDLINE Enhancement should be a priority at this time. We suggest that the TRDG should communicate more closely with CRG administrators before developing their plans further. We are committed to continuing to work with them and hope they will continue to work within the CC to help with the development of trials registers. Chris and Dan will discuss the minutes of the TRDG 8 July 1996 meeting with Kay Dickersin when they meet with her and the other US Center directors this week. They will convey concerns expressed by the CCSG and discuss the implications of the agreement that has been reached in principle with Update vis a vis CCTR. Action: Chris, Dan

3.2 Software Development

It is anticipated that the contract negotiated in principle with Update should address the immediate concerns about the Parent Database. Monica will ensure that essential software development needs are covered by the contract. Monica, Iain and Muir will estimate the resources needed for software development and summarise the development up to now. Further discussion of software development was postponed until the next CCSG meeting in October. Gratitude was expressed for the NHS's major contribution to software development up to now, and Iain Chalmers was asked to convey this to the NHS. Action: Monica, Muir, Iain

Responsibility for Centre modules is Peter's, Field modules is Edward's, the Consumer Network's module is Hilda's, MG modules is Andy's, as described in Monica's proposal. Action: Peter, Edward, Hilda, Andy

3.3 Editorial Group

Iain and Andy's proposal for the Handbook and editorial responsibility were approved with one modification: it was proposed that Jos Kleijnen should be asked to chair the Editorial Group instead of Iain. Iain will follow-up on this. Action: Iain

3.4 Colloquia

3.4.1 Update on 1996 Colloquium

At the conclusion of each day there is a council of CRG, Fields, Consumer Network, MGs. The reps from those respective entities are responsible to organise those meetings. Action: Peter, Bev, Cindy, Jeremy, Edward, Andy, Hilda, Jean

3.4.2 Tom Chalmers Prize

The circulated proposal for the Tom Chalmers prize was approved with one minor change. Action: Chris

3.4.3 Future issues

Cindy Mulrow raised the question whether we should accept systematic reviews that are prepared outside of the CC. The answer is yes. Chris will let Cindy and other Centre directors know this. Action: Chris

4. Executive office

It was agreed that the term executive office' should be changed to the CC secretariat'.

As a result of Ian Fullerton Smith's recent resignation from the position of Executive Officer, it was agreed that the functions of the job should be split. Our immediate needs are for an administrator and a company secretary to take responsibility for the CC's accounts. If the administrator cannot fulfil the functions of company secretary, someone should be found who can meet these responsibilities. The circulated job description for an administrator for the CC was approved with minor modifications. Funding for this position will come from the BIOMED II project. Jini Hetherington was discussed as a potential candidate for the position. Muir, Chris and Bev will discuss the position further with Jini, and appoint someone to the post.

A formal vote was taken of the Board of the CC, and it was unanimously supported that Ian should be replaced temporarily by Muir Gray as Company Secretary until a permanent replacement could be found. Hilda will check the constitution to confirm we do this appropriately. Monica will send a copy of the CC constitution to everyone on the Steering Group, including the new members who will join the CCSG in October. Action: Chris, Muir, Bev

Meanwhile we urgently need start-up funds for someone with business skills, secretarial support and operating costs for three years to develop and implement a business plan that will get the CC to a point where it can sustain its core functions or develop alternative arrangements for supporting non-sustainable core functions. A key target for funding for core activities should be international organisations like the World Bank and WHO. Chris volunteered to use up to one month travelling around talking with potential funders after the Colloquium in October when we have a strategic plan in place. Muir will help co-ordinate efforts to obtain start-up funding. Action: Chris, Muir, all

5. Future activities

5.1 Annual report

Iain and Muir will prepare an annual report. Action: Iain, Muir

5.2 Progress report

Chris will write a much abridged report including a foreword by the chair, statistics, members of the CCSG. Action: Chris

5.3 Steering Group module

Deferred until an administrator is appointed. Action: administrator

5.4 US meetings

Dan and Chris were asked to convey to the US Center directors when they meet this week the following:

What the Collaboration can and cannot do in terms of supporting the US Centers.

Support for Update's simplified proposal for handling comments & criticisms and discuss whether SFCC is prepared to handle comments & criticisms if they start arriving.

Discuss situation vis a vis HIV/AIDS CRG.

Discuss strategic plan, Iain & Peter's background paper and implications of these for US Centers including possibilities for merging and filling gaps in CRGs. Actions: Dan, Chris

6. General business

6.1 Cochrane flag

It was approved that York University can fly the Cochrane Flag.

6.2 Cochrane video

It was approved Wales can produce a Cochrane video.

Iain will convey the above two decisions to the relevant parties. Action: Iain

1. Data Protection Act

Muir, as company secretary, will register the CC under the Data Protection Act in the UK. Action: Muir

1. Copyright survey & title of administrators

Administrators are concerned about copyright and how to handle requests for copies of Cochrane Reviews. Due to lack of time, discussion of this issue was deferred until the next meeting in October. Action: Bev

Discussion regarding whether CRG administrators should be allowed to call themselves co-ordinators' was deferred until the October meeting. Action: Bev

1. Funding guidelines

Dan & Chris will redraft the funding guidelines. Action: Chris, Dan

6.6 Orphans'

Iain and Peter's proposal for an orphans group was discussed. Iain and Peter will go ahead and develop an application for a group such as the one described in their proposal. Action: Iain, Peter

1. Duplicate reviews

Deferred until October meeting. Action: Bev

7. Next meeting + new members

Chris will send a letter to all the new members welcoming them. Action: Chris

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