Cochrane Collaboration

Steering Group Minutes
Baltimore, 20th, 22nd and 25th October 1998

[Minutes approved by Steering Group Executive on 4th December 1998]

Index to Minutes

Annual General Meeting20.1 CDSR, assessments of the quality of8.5
CDSR, publishing a report on the quality of, in The Cochrane Library 8.6 Centre, application for a Chinese Cochrane17
Centre, change of directorship of Canadian Cochrane22.2 Centre, Dutch Cochrane, change of co-director of22.3
Centre core functions list22.1 Cochrane Reviews, amendment to citations for22.6
Cochrane Reviews, abstracts of8.3 Cochrane Reviews, external refereeing of8.1
Cochrane Reviews, improving the quality of8 Cochrane Reviews, out of date8.2
Cochrane Reviews, responsibility of reviewers for updating8.4 Colloquia, future20.3
Conflict, handling and resolving5 Conflicts of interest, potential12
Consumer sessions [at Colloquia]20.2 CRG draft modules, review of16
Criticism Management System18 Duplication of effort and conflict of interest in editorial work, risks of 13
Entities, monitoring7 Entities, what they should be allowed to call themselves11
Fields22.8 Financial position [re Secretariat] 21
Freiburg meetings [of Steering Group and Centre Directors]22.4 Funding and financing the Collaboration, strategic alliances and priorities 19
MetaView summary screen9 Monitoring process [of entities]7
Network, possible new22.7 Ombudsman3
Principle of continuity 14 Principles for workshops22.5
Registration process [of entities]7.1 Report and Financial Statements of the Collaboration2
Review Group Co-ordinators' meeting, feedback on issues from15 Steering Group minutes22.9
Steering Group, responsibilities and expectations of members 4 Steering Group, structure, remit and membership of its sub-groups3
Synopses, mechanisms for preparing, editing and publishing10 Update Software, Special Agreement with6

APPENDIX [Steering Group membership of sub-groups and advisory groups]


Steering Group Meeting held on 20th October 1998 (Chair: Chris Silagy)

Present: Gerd Antes, Hilda Bastian, Lisa Bero, Mike Clarke, Paula Feakes, Monica Fischer, Gill Gyte, Jini Hetherington (minutes), Paul Jones, Mark Lodge, Andy Oxman, Bev Shea, Chris Silagy (Chair), Mark Starr (for Item 6 only), Jimmy Volmink.

1. Welcomes, apologies for absence and introductions:
Chris welcomed everyone to the meeting. He gave apologies for absence from the three Steering Group meetings from Zarko Alfirevic, and from the first of these meetings from Peter Langhorne and Chris Williams. Paula Feakes, the full-time Secretariat Secretary who replaced Barbara Roberts in June 1998, was introduced. The staff of the Secretariat were thanked for producing the agenda material, and also for their hard work throughout the year.

Chris thanked Andy for agreeing to take over as Chair; he welcomed Gerd Antes and Jimmy Volmink as the new Centre representatives, Peter Langhorne and Chris Williams (absent from the meeting) as new CRG representatives, Mike Clarke as the new Methods Group representative, and congratulated Hilda for being re-elected to represent consumers. The new members join the Steering Group officially at the Annual General Meeting on 24th October 1998.

2. Report and Financial Statements of the Collaboration:
Muir Gray and Jini were thanked for their background work in the auditors' production of these documents, which were approved for tabling at the Annual General Meeting later this week.

3. Structure, remit and membership of the Steering Group's sub-groups:

The discussion document produced by Andy and Monica was considered. Comments on this document that had been received from Muir Gray and Mark Starr were read aloud, as were comments from Kay Dickersin about non-Steering Group members attending Steering Group meetings.

The three main sub-groups (the Executive Group, the Publishing Policy Group, and the Registration Group) all have policy functions, but some also have a management function and an advisory role. It was agreed that an effort should be made to make membership of the Steering Group´s sub-groups international wherever possible, and that it was important to avoid self-interest in deciding on the membership of these sub-groups.

The Executive Group is responsible for making decisions about the core functions of the Collaboration, and for making recommendations to the full Steering Group. It was therefore agreed that the suggested Core Functions Group should be combined with the Executive Group.

The purpose of the Publishing Policy Group is to oversee the marketing, distribution and pricing of The Cochrane Library, and to provide advice on its contents. Representatives from Update Software and the York Centre for Reviews and Dissemination are ex officio members of the Publishing Policy Group. A representative from the Cochrane Library Users' Group should be on the Publishing Policy Group. This Group and the Registration Group can co-opt additional members.

The Chair of the Steering Group should be the Convenor of the Executive. The full Steering Group should select the Convenors of the other two sub-groups. The general principle was agreed that the Convenor will nominate people to the sub-groups. The Steering Group member who serves as the liaison person between the Steering Group and Update Software should be a member of the Publishing Policy Group. It was agreed that Andy would propose suggestions for membership of each of the three sub-groups at Monday´s meeting, and that in the meantime members should make known to him any particular requests or concerns about such membership. It was agreed that it was not appropriate for the Company Secretary to be a member of the Executive Group, but that the Publishing Policy Group might choose to co-opt Muir Gray to this as a useful contributor. It was suggested that the Secretariat could produce a poster at future Colloquia describing the remit of the various sub-groups of the Steering Group.
Action: Jini

Advisory Groups:

It was agreed that the various advisory groups can only establish further sub-groups in consultation with the Steering Group. At least two Steering Group members should be allocated to each advisory group.

After consulting informally between Steering Group meetings, Andy tabled the chart for suggested membership of the various sub-groups (see Appendix to these minutes). The Convenors of all the advisory groups should circulate a list of their members to the whole Steering Group as soon as possible.
Action: Mike, Monica, Mark, Jimmy, Kay, Rachel, Mildred (via Lisa)

It was felt to be unmanageable and not necessary for non-Steering Group members who are Convenors of advisory groups to attend full Steering Group meetings. Part of every Steering Group meeting should be set aside for Convenors to attend for issues relevant to them, and they should be invited in advance, while recognising that the costs of their attendance cannot be met centrally by the Collaboration. They will be expected to submit a report in advance, even though there may be nothing requiring discussion. The agendas of Steering Group meetings should be posted on the Web site in advance, for the information of all members of the Collaboration.
Action: Jini

Ombudsman: Andy proposed that Chris Silagy be appointed Ombudsman, to help to resolve conflicts and occasionally to act as an ambassador. Chris had agreed to take on this role on the understanding that he be consulted as a last resort only. He should be asked to identify someone to act for him in situations where there is a possible conflict of interest; this person could also deputise for him if necessary.
Action: Andy

Communication: The discussion document outlining the remit and membership of the CCSG subgroups and advisory groups should be revised and incorporated in the Cochrane Manual. It should also be sent personally to the convenors of advisory groups who are not members of the CCSG. When the amended document is ready to be added to the Cochrane Manual, a notice should be sent to all entities and CCINFO. A synopsis should be published in Cochrane News. A separate announcement should be sent to Cochrane News regarding Chris Silagy's appointment as Ombudsman.
Action: Jini, Andy, Mark

4. Responsibilities and expectations of Steering Group members:
It was agreed that all Steering Group members should be expected to attend all meetings, participate in telephone conferences for the subgroups to which they belong, and respond to email messages within a reasonable time frame. We should be careful not to set unreasonable expectations for Steering Group members to undertake additional tasks, and Steering Group members should be careful not to volunteer to undertake additional tasks that they are unable to manage.

Communication: The responsibilities and expectations of Steering Group members should be noted in calls for nominations for future elections.
Action: Jini

5. Handling and resolving conflict:

Gill's offer to produce a small leaflet summarising the main points to consider in situations of conflict was accepted. In addition to making this information available to entities for distribution to their members, it could also be put onto the web site, in Cochrane News, and in The Cochrane Manual. It was agreed that it is important to mount workshops on conflict prevention and resolution at future Colloquia, and to have written guidance. Gill also agreed to take forward the setting up of a database of possible ways of handling conflicts, giving some anonymous examples of past conflicts within the Collaboration if possible. She will pursue the establishment of a handling conflict support group, with an explicit relationship with the Ombudsman, and keep the Steering Group advised of progress on this initiative. In situations of conflict between CRGs and their reference Cochrane Centre, the proposed conflict support group should be approached, with final recourse to the Ombudsman. Gill agreed to amend the document on Handling and Resolving Conflict in light of discussions about it, to send it for consultation, and then to distribute it widely throughout the Collaboration. She and those who had worked with her were thanked for the excellent work done in this area; it was agreed that the process of handling and advising on conflict should be revisited on a regular basis.
Action: Gill, Mark

(b) The suggestion of personal contact being made with new contributors to the Collaboration was strongly encouraged. It was agreed to produce some introductory material for them. Andy and Jini agreed to look at what could be included in such material, obtaining information from the HIV/AIDS Group as to what is contained in their introductory pack, and to come up with a plan for who should implement producing such material for newcomers in general.
Action: Andy, Jini

6. Special Agreement with Update Software:
Chris told Mark Starr that his efforts are greatly valued and appreciated by everyone. Suggestions made in the ensuing discussion are intended to be helpful, and made in the light of this appreciation. Mark spoke to his tabled document, 'Update Software and the Cochrane Collaboration: revisiting the Oslo agreement'. It was agreed that ensuring the quality of the reviews has been and remains one of the most important challenges to the Collaboration. The issue of marketing The Cochrane Library should be discussed again by the Centres. Concern about the need for central marketing of the product was recognised, and should be discussed at the meetings of the Steering Group and Centre Directors in Freiburg, Germany, next March.
Action: Jini, Jimmy

It was clarified that the Special Agreement is between the Collaboration and Mark Starr as an individual, rather than with the company, Update Software. Mark Starr drew attention to the fact that the Collaboration is responsible for issues surrounding the content of The Cochrane Library. A schedule should be written to define and clarify certain items, to be appended to the Agreement. Mark Starr and Lisa were asked to provide some text together regarding intellectual property rights of the Comments and Criticisms Manager, with input from Monica. There should also be an addendum to define CENTRAL. With regard to the development of MetaView, it was flagged that when an alternative to this is developed, it might be preferable for the Collaboration to own it. In clause 4.1, the term Cochrane Library Advisory Group should be amended to read Cochrane Library Users' Group. Clause 10.7 of the Agreement (referring to the contract with Synapse) should be removed.
Action: Mark Starr, Lisa, Monica


Steering Group
Meeting held on 22nd October 1998 (Chair: Chris Silagy)

Present: Gerd Antes, Hilda Bastian, Lisa Bero, Mike Clarke, Paula Feakes, Monica Fischer, Gill Gyte, Jini Hetherington (minutes), Paul Jones, Peter Langhorne, Mark Lodge, Andy Oxman, Bev Shea, Chris Silagy (Chair), Jimmy Volmink, Chris Williams.

7. Monitoring entities:

7.1 Registration process:

Lisa Bero tabled a report from the Registration Group detailing its activities over the past year. She proposed that acceptance of registration be dependent on submission of an electronic module, and that it be the responsibility of the reference Centre Director to ensure that requested further information be provided within a stated time scale. These two proposals were agreed to, and should be added to the description of the process for registering new entities.
Action: Lisa

Communication: This decision should be communicated to Mark Starr and Lois Simms at Update Software, Centre Directors, and the contact people for all possible entities listed in The Cochrane Library.
Action: Jini

7.2 Monitoring process:

It was agreed that all entities should go through the same process for monitoring, although they may be currently at different stages in checklist development.

Collaborative Review Groups: There was general support for monitoring in a simple, transparent and achievable way, to assess whether groups are meeting minimum standards while achieving growth. Responses would be collected from all the CRGs, and distributed to all members of the Registration Group. This process would be conducted annually. Paul Jones proposed a step after the process of monitoring by checklist, which is to try to identify the reasons why a Group might be functioning less well than others, and will bring a proposal to the Freiburg meeting on this. Two questions that could be asked on the checklist could be: "What has your Group excelled at that other Groups can learn from?" and "What problems has your Group had that other Groups can learn from?"
Action: Paul

Fields: The process of monitoring these entities is being refined and will be discussed by the Steering Group at its meeting in Freiburg next March.
Action: Mark

Methods Groups: A checklist for monitoring MGs has been sent to all MG convenors. This will be modified based on the experience of using it the first time and to make it consistent with the checklists used to monitor other entities. It will be used to monitor these entities on an annual basis, and reviewed by all members of the Registration Group.
Action: Mike

Centres: The list of core functions (see separate minute) will form the basis of the checklist for monitoring Centres. The Centre representatives on the Registration Group will develop a checklist based on the suggested core functions, a draft final version to be ready by March 1999, which will be collected annually by the Centre representatives on the Registration Group.
Action: Jimmy, Lisa

Consumer Network: The Consumer representatives will develop a checklist. A draft will be ready by March 1999.
Action: Gill, Hilda

Steering Group: The Funders´ Forum, if it is established, might be asked to recommend people to form an external review committee to monitor the Steering Group.
Action: Andy

Monitoring process in general: It was agreed that all the checklists for monitoring the entities should follow the same format, be no more than a single page each, and should be revised as we accumulate experience using them. A summary of lessons learned by this monitoring process could be published in Cochrane News. There would need to be good communication between the Registration Group and the entities, who should be asked to identify problems and suggest solutions; in the absence of these the Steering Group would suggest remedies. Monitoring of the various entities should be staggered. The Registration Group will have to work out the process, keep it as simple as possible, and negotiate with the Secretariat the practical implementation of the process. Drafts of all the checklists, and a schedule for monitoring all registered entities, should be ready by March 1999.
Action: Lisa

A brief summary of the philosophy and plans for monitoring entities should be sent to all entities and published in Cochrane News.
Action: Lisa, Jini

8. Improving the quality of Cochrane Reviews:

8.1 External refereeing:
It was agreed that all reviews be refereed by at least two people external to the editors of the CRG prior to publication. The guidelines for pre-publication refereeing should be modified to take account of this new policy and incorporated in The Cochrane Manual (Appendix 8.6.1).

Communication: The policy and revised guidelines should be sent to all CRGs and Centres, and something about the policy should be published in Cochrane News.
Action: Lisa, Mark, Jini

8.2 Out of date Cochrane Reviews:
It was agreed that we should ask Update Software to establish an automated process to identify reviews that have not been updated for over one year. A notice should be sent requesting that the review should either be updated or a commentary added clarifying the status of the review. A commentary can be added to reviews such as individual patient data reviews explaining that these reviews are updated less frequently than yearly and stating the reason. Reviews that have not been updated for two years should be brought to the attention of the Registration Group as part of the routine monitoring of CRGs. Whenever possible, comments should be added in the 'What's New' section of a review, explaining the review's status rather than removing the review when there are problems with updating it. It was agreed that details of withdrawn reviews could go into the Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effectiveness, subject to the approval of those responsible for this database. The policy was agreed that protocols should be withdrawn after two years. The CRG's editorial team could be asked to add a list of trials awaiting assessment to an out of date review, alerting users to new information of importance. The Stroke Group have offered to pilot this over the next few months.
Action: Monica

Communication: Once it has been determined that it is feasible to arrange automatic identification of out of date reviews by producing a report on each CRG's module, a notice should be sent to all CRGs and Centres informing them about these plans. The guidelines for updating reviews (Appendix 8.6.3 of the Cochrane Manual) should be amended in light of the above, and the amended guidelines circulated to CRGs and Centres. An article about this should be published in Cochrane News.
Action: Lisa, Monica, Mark, Jini

8.3 Abstracts of Cochrane Reviews:
Andy reported that the need to improve the abstracts is urgent because of their inclusion in MEDLINE next year. An ad hoc group of volunteers from the Steering Group and the Centre Directors will develop guidelines for abstracts, and a process for preparing more informative and readable abstracts for all of the reviews in The Cochrane Library, before the National Library of Medicine begins indexing Cochrane Reviews. The ad hoc group includes Phil Alderson, Hilda Bastian, Iain Chalmers, Jeremy Grimshaw, Brian Haynes, Philippa Middleton, Andy Oxman, Chris Silagy, Peter Tugwell, and Chris Williams. The ModMan Advisory Group, Mark Starr and Rachel Stancliffe will help figure out the process and co-ordination of this with changes in titles and copy editing of reviews. It was agreed that it might be necessary to negotiate with the National Library of Medicine to delay the indexing of Cochrane Reviews by three months. It was agreed that we should enforce a limit on the length of abstracts (the current recommendation in the Handbook is 250 words) and that there should be an automatic standard statement in every abstract to the effect that "This is an electronic publication and will be updated". The date of the most recent search should also be included in the abstract. It was agreed that Cochrane Reviews in MEDLINE should indicate that they are Cochrane systematic reviews.
Action: Andy, Chris S, Chris W, Hilda et al.

Communication: Monica should inform Update Software about changing the location of the citation in The Cochrane Library. The ad hoc group working on abstracts should consult with and keep CRGs informed of its plans and progress through the RGC and co-ordinating editors' email lists. Once the guidelines for abstracts are finalised they should be incorporated in the Reviewers' Handbook and the RevMan Manual.
Action: Monica, Andy, Mike

8.4 Responsibility of reviewers for updating Cochrane Reviews:
The necessity for keeping reviews up to date and responding to criticisms should be made explicit to people at the time that they are thinking of taking on doing a review. Andy agreed to draft an agreement to be signed by reviewers when a title is registered acknowledging this responsibility. This will be circulated first to the Steering Group and then more widely for feedback and suggestions before it is finalised.
Action: Andy

8.5 Assessments of the quality of CDSR:
Members of the Cochrane Collaboration embarking on an evaluation of any aspect of the quality of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) should be encouraged to register that exercise centrally with the Secretariat, to prevent duplication of effort, to help ensure effective and efficient use of resources, and to help ensure good communication. There is an expectation that those undertaking evaluations of the quality of CDSR will report the results of their evaluation to the Collaboration and, where possible, attempt to ensure that problems that are identified, either specific errors or generic problems, are made known to those responsible so that they can be addressed. People undertaking evaluations should be encouraged to consult with the relevant entities when designing the evaluation.

Communication: A message regarding this recommendation, including a list of evaluations of which we are already aware, should be sent to all registered entities requesting them to notify the Secretariat of any additional ongoing or planned evaluations of which they are aware. Something about this should be published in Cochrane News. We may want to do this on an annual basis and maintain the list of ongoing and planned evaluations on one of the Web sites.
Action: Andy, Jini

8.6 Publishing a report on the quality of CDSR in The Cochrane Library:
Matthias Egger had suggested that we might want to consider publishing a summary of the quality of Cochrane Reviews that is updated with each issue in The Cochrane Library as an ongoing measure of how well we are doing. It might be possible to establish an automated process to measure some elements of quality. While there was uncertainty about how this would be done, it was agreed that this suggestion was worth exploring further.
Action: Andy

9. MetaView summary screen:
The proposed new summary screen is planned for inclusion in the release of RevMan 4.0 in July 1999. This was agreed to, as long as it is made very clear how to move from the summary screen to the further details of the review. Someone at the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination should be asked to try out its readability and interpretation on some users. Further comments should be given to Monica by early November.
Action: Monica

10. Mechanisms for preparing, editing and publishing synopses:
It was agreed that synopses of the reviews are desirable, it is already built into RevMan to include these, and we should encourage reviewers to draft synopses and send them to a central point for professional editing. We should aim for such synopses to be contemporaneous. Hilda offered to draft some guidelines within the next three weeks on the process for dealing with synopses, to go to people for feedback, that would be included in the Reviewers' Handbook and RevMan Manual. Different CRGs may want to try different processes for preparing synopses.
Action: Hilda, Mike

Communication: Plans for how the synopses will be prepared should be communicated to CRGs as soon as possible, since some CRGs have already expressed concerns about this.
Action: Hilda, Bev, Paul, Chris

11. What entities should be allowed to call themselves:
The principle was reaffirmed that the titles of Centres must remain standard (e.g. Australasian Cochrane Centre). There are several alternative ways of acknowledging funders of Centres (such as including a logo or acknowledgement on a Centre's letterhead or using multiple letterheads), but funders' names must not be included as part of the name of a Centre.
Action: Andy

12. Potential conflicts of interest:
It was agreed that direct funding from a single source with a vested interest in the results of a review is not acceptable. A proposal for how funds can acceptably be distributed to reviewers through an independent third party will be brought for discussion at the Freiburg meeting next March.
Action: Gerd, Mark

Communication: Andy will communicate this decision to the people who brought this issue forward to the Steering Group. The code of conduct for avoiding financial conflicts of interest in the Cochrane Manual (2.1) should be reviewed and brought up to date. A concise summary of the implication of the policy for funding of reviews should be circulated to CRGs and Centres and published in Cochrane News.
Action: Mark, Gerd, Lisa, Jini

13. Risks of duplication of effort and conflict of interest in editorial work:
It was agreed that this item would be brought up at a later date after assembling diverse examples of generic problems.

14. Continuity principle:
It was agreed to add a ninth principle to the list of the Collaboration's eight principles, as follows: "Continuity…. By ensuring that responsibility for reviews, editorial processes and key functions is maintained." The words "and renewed" should be added after "maintained".

Communication: The new principle should be included in electronic documents, including the Cochrane Manual, brochure, leaflet, and Web pages as soon as possible, and in printed documents as existing supplies are used up. All entities should be notified of the new principle and something should go in Cochrane News about this.
Action: Mark, Jini

15. Feedback on issues from Review Group Co-ordinators´ meeting:
Bev reported that the workload for editorial bases is increasing and causing concerns. The Steering Group agreed that when a Collaborataive Review Group (CRG) gets to a certain size, additional resources will be required; this fact should be acknowledged in the relevant section of The Cochrane Manual. It was also agreed that a statement should be made at the Annual General Meeting that the Review Group Co-ordinators are the backbone of the CRGs, with a special vote of thanks, and to draw everyone's attention to recognition of the fact that increased resources would be needed as a CRG grows and expands.
Action: Mark, Andy

16. Review of CRG draft modules:
Monica reported on the proposed timeline for CRGs to produce their draft modules, and explained the proposed process for ensuring consistency across all modules.

17. Chinese Cochrane Centre application:
This application was discussed in broad terms, and will be considered in depth when the Steering Group has received the complete documentation. Jini was asked to set a realistic deadline for feedback on this application to be sent to her.
Action: Jini


Steering Group Meeting held on 25th October 1998 (Chair: Andy Oxman)

Present: Gerd Antes, Hilda Bastian, Lisa Bero, Mike Clarke, Paula Feakes, Monica Fischer, Gill Gyte, Jini Hetherington (minutes), Paul Jones, Peter Langhorne, Mark Lodge, Andy Oxman (Chair), Bev Shea, Jimmy Volmink, Chris Williams.

Andy welcomed those people who had officially become members of the Steering Group at the Annual General Meeting the previous day (24th October): Mike Clarke, Peter Langhorne, Jimmy Volmink, Chris Williams, and Hilda Bastian (re-elected).

18. Criticism Management System:
Lisa explained that the current system for managing comments and criticisms of Cochrane Reviews will not work on the Internet. For this and other practical reasons, it has been agreed to use and develop the interface already devised by Update Software (name and address, e-mail address, text (with headings), conflict of interest statement). (Post hoc note: Address and conflict of interest statement are currently not included in the interface designed by Update Software, who later confirmed that these will be added.) After due work from the Criticism Editor and the reviewer being given the opportunity to respond to a criticism, the criticism will be posted on a public web site. It is up to the Criticism Editor´s discretion whether or not an anonymous criticism be publicised. The whole comments and criticism process should be kept constantly under review. It is essential to keep the Review Group Co-ordinators in the loop on developing and implementing this process. Monica reported that it had been agreed to establish a CritMan Advisory Group to the Software Development Group. Something about these changes should be sent to CRGs and Centres and published in Cochrane News.
Action: Lisa, Monica, Jini

19. Funding and financing the Collaboration, strategic alliances and priorities:
It was agreed that it is important to build up a reserve of capital to fund the Secretariat before allocating core funds to other activities. It was also agreed that it become policy that technical editing (formerly referred to as copy editing) is a central responsibility, as is the management function of the Comments and Criticisms System, and CENTRAL/CCTR. The information contained in the first two columns of the tabled document, 'Funding for core functions in the Cochrane Collaboration', after due amendment, should become public.
Action: Monica, Andy

For the future, it was agreed to start with the same four goals from the existing Strategic Plan, and have a small number of important targets for the next two years on which we would like to concentrate. These targets should be co-ordinated with this funding document and which organisations we target. Andy reported that he had recently had contacts with the BMJ, EC, NLM/NIH, WHO and the possible Funders´ Forum as examples of organisations that we may want to target in relation to the targets we set for the next two years, and in achieving adequate funding for core functions.
Action: Andy

20. Colloquia

20.1 Annual General Meeting:
It was agreed that the Annual General Meeting should be taken more seriously in future. It should be split into two parts, and the voting members should come to the first part. There should be half an hour for the AGM, a break, then a two-hour business meeting for discussion. The Report and Financial Statements should be distributed to the voting members in advance of the meeting. It will be made clear in the programme what the AGM is, that entity representatives are expected to attend, but that anyone else is welcome to observe. Everyone should be encouraged strongly to attend the business meeting, and people should be invited to put forward suggestions of items for discussion in advance of the meeting. Stand-up microphones should be available for people to ask questions.
Action: Jini

20.2 Consumer sessions:
There had been adverse comments about how few Steering Group members had attended the plenary session on consumers. It might be better to integrate the consumer sessions throughout the Colloquia: this will be suggested to Alessandro Liberati, and be policy at all future Colloquia.
Action: Andy

20.3 Future Colloquia:
We need to be clearer about who is the audience for these events. They are being more and more targeted at people from outside the organisation. There should be a list of the terminology that is used in the Collaboration within the program for newcomers. There was consensus to split things up more for newcomers and for veterans. Colloquia should be targeted to both groups of people. Newcomer sessions can be clearly aimed at bringing in new people, but there must also be adequate time within the event for people actually doing the work to meet and make progress on issues without always needing to back track and take time to address themselves to newcomers.

Communication: The above should be communicated to the organisers of the 1999-2001 Colloquia and incorporated in a summary of policies about Colloquia which the Colloquium Group should prepare for the Cochrane Manual.
Action: Jini, Jimmy, Mark

21. Financial position:
Jini expressed concern about continued financial support for the Secretariat after the BIOMED II grant (which has paid for the Administrator's salary) ends on 31st December 1998. It was agreed that this should be discussed at the next teleconference of the Executive Group in December.
Action: Monica

22. Any other business:

22.1 Centre core functions list:
After discussion by the Steering Group, the Centre Directors, and the staff of Centres, it was agreed that the core functions of all Centres are as follows:

Other checklist items:

22.2 Change of directorship of Canadian Cochrane Centre:
It was reported that Brian Haynes is stepping down as Director of this Centre in early November. Arne Ohlsson has been approached to become the new Director. Lisa will write to him and ask for a letter outlining his targets and objectives.
Action: Lisa

22.3 Change of co-Director of Dutch Cochrane Centre:

Pim Assendelft is replacing Anton de Craen soon, as co-Director with Martin Offringa of the Dutch Cochrane Centre. This should be announced to all entities.
Action: Jini

22.4 Freiburg meetings:
Andy said that there may be a meeting with WHO between the Steering Group (14th and 15th March) and Centre Director (16th and 17th March) meetings next year. Details of those meetings will be circulated in the next couple of months.
Action: Andy, Jimmy, Gerd, Jini

22.5 Principles for workshops:
Two principles suggested by the Centre directors were that it is acceptable to have cost recovery for workshops, and that all workshops should be announced on the Web site. There was agreement with these principles. There were no objections to charges being made for workshops put on by Centres for people not contributing to the work of the Collaboration, such as general workshops on evidence based health care.

Communication: The Centre Directors should be informed that the Steering Group agreed with these principles, and this should be included in the Cochrane Manual in the section on Centres.
Action: Jimmy, Mark

22.6 Amendment to citations for Cochrane Reviews:
It was agreed to include the date of the last substantive update (or updated search, if no substantive changes were needed) at the end of the citation. The Software Development Group will figure out how to implement this and, if a new date is needed for 'Date of most recent search', to implement this and make it possible to distinguish between substantive changes and an updated search that did not result in any substantive changes in the content of the review. It was agreed that the citation should appear in The Cochrane Library right after the abstract.
Action: Monica

Communication: The decision to change the citation should be communicated to all registered entities as soon as the details are resolved.
Action: Monica

22.7 Possible new network:

Chris Williams reported on interest from the International Atomic Energy Commission in the possibility of a nuclear medicine network.

22.8 Fields:
It was agreed in principle that 'Network' is a preferable term for entities currently known as 'Fields', acknowledging the distinction between this type of entity and the Consumer Network, which is unique. The change of title from 'Field' to 'Network' should be optional. Amendments to the generic use of the term should be made as soon as possible in electronic documents, including the Cochrane Manual, brochure, leaflet, and Web pages, and in printed documents as existing supplies are used up. All entities should be notified of this change and something should go in Cochrane News about it.
Action: Mark

22.9 Steering Group minutes
Andy and Jini will make a plan for how to communicate the minutes to all concerned, and implement this plan in the minutes.
Action: Andy, Jini

Appendix: Steering Group membership of sub-groups and advisory groups


Executive (Sub) Group

Registration (Sub) Group

Publishing Policy (Sub) Group

Advisory Group

Zarko Alfirevic





Gerd Antes



CLib Users

Hilda Bastian



Technical Editing
Criticism Management

Lisa Bero




Criticism Management

Mike Clarke




Software Development
Trials Registers

Monica Fischer




Software Development*

Gill Gyte




Cochrane Manual

Paul Jones




Technical Editing

Peter Langhorne



CLib Users

Mark Lodge




Cochrane Manual*
Trials Registers

Andy Oxman





Bev Shea




Trials Registers

Jimmy Volmink





Chris Williams




Technical Editing


Jini Hetherington





Mark Starr



Software Development
CLib Users




CRD representative


Kay Dickersin


Trials Registers*

Rachel Stancliffe


Technical Editing* #

Mildred Cho


Criticism Management*

* Convenor.
# Agreed, post hoc, to rename this group (formerly the 'Copy' Editing Group).

Note: Additional members will be added to the above Advisory Groups which may include other Steering Group members.

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