Minutes of meeting of the
Cochrane Collaboration Steering Group,
San Antonio, Texas,
5 and 6 March 2000
Advisory Group, CENTRAL/CCTR See also 19.1|
Advisory Group, Cochrane Library Users' Group
Advisory Group, Colloquium Policy
Advisory Group, Criticism Management See also 19.4
Advisory Group, Handbook
Advisory Group, Manual
Advisory Group, Quality [new]
Advisory Group, Software Development
Advisory Groups, documents produced by
Authorship of published articles in journals
Business manager/executive officer
Business plan See also 9; 10.2; 14; 32.2
Centers, consolidation of US
Cochrane Library, citation of modules in
Cochrane Library, improving the
Cochrane Library, national subscriptions to
Cochrane Library, publication of specialised databases & derivative products
Cochrane logo, disclaimer for use with
Collaborative Review Groups, consumer synopses
Collaborative Review Groups, RGC/TSC Action Group
Collaborative Review Groups, workload and calendar of events
Colloquium, Cape Town 2000 See also 31.2
Colloquium, location in 2002
Colloquium, Lyon 2001
Colloquium, Steering Group meetings during Cape Town
Comments and criticisms, web site for
Electoral process, review of
Finance, criteria for funding
Finance, current financial position
Finance, funding for core functions
Finance, guidelines for expenditure by the Trading Company
Funders in the US, visits with
Monitoring Collaborative Review Groups
Monitoring entities [in general] See also 21.1
Monitoring Methods Groups
Monitoring the Consumer Network
Monitoring the Steering Group
Participation of developing countries in the Collaboration
Participation of women in the Collaboration
Participation; addressing imbalances within the Collaboration
Reviews, citation of
Reviews, conversion of IPD reviews
Reviews, copy editing of
Reviews, quality of [see Quality Advisory Group]
Steering Group priorities for the next two years
Steering Group, departure from the
Steering Group, election of new Chair
Steering Group, geographical representation on
Steering Group, location of February/March 2001 meeting
Update Software, agreement with
Present: Gerd Antes, Hilda Bastian, Mike Clarke, Davina Ghersi, Jini Hetherington (minutes), Ruth Jepson, Peter Langhorne, Youping Li, Mark Lodge, Jim Neilson, Andy Oxman (Chair), Elena Telaro, Jimmy Volmink, Chris Williams.
In attendance: Fenella Rouse (for entire meeting);
Monica Fischer and Mark Starr (for items 1 to 8).
Bob Boruch and Dorothy de Moya (item 9 only).
7.1 Criteria for funding: It was agreed that the budget for the Secretariat should be increased by 5,000 pounds for the time being, to cover one-off requests for funding. Criteria upon which to base such decisions, whose primary focus should be on supporting review production, should be: the likely success if funding were given, the potential for alternative sources of funding, and whether not funding something could potentially be damaging. Peter and Mark agreed to further develop these criteria and present them to the Executive for consideration at their April teleconference.
Action: Peter, Mark
7.2 Guidelines for expenditure by the Trading Company: Approval was given for the Trading Company directors to spend up to a total of 5,000 pounds on promotional products, without having to apply to the Steering Group for permission.
7.3 Current financial position: Mike advised that 2,500 pounds had been paid in the current financial year to Malcolm Newdick to assist the Secretariat with such aspects of the accounts as VAT tax returns and dealing with the Inland Revenue, in his capacity as Company Secretary of the Trading Company. If this figure looks likely to be exceeded in the next financial year, the Steering Group's approval should be sought.
8.1 It was reiterated that consumer synopses are an integral part of reviews, and therefore should be subject to the same process of peer review. Synopses for new reviews should follow the given guidelines, with the aim of finishing the backlog of synopses by February 2001. There should be communication with CRGs and other entities, drafted by Jim and Hilda, explaining the hold-ups that occurred which were due to the process having commenced behind schedule. It should become optional for synopses to be sent to the Australasian Cochrane Centre for approval, but this should be encouraged. This is a change in policy, and should be included in the Reviewers' Handbook.
Action: Jim, Hilda, Mike
8.2 Hilda showed several overheads describing the Alert system being developed by the Australasian Cochrane Centre and how consumer synopses will be used in this system. She asked people to give her feedback on this system, which is currently up and running on the Australasian Cochrane Centre website.
9.1 The Secretariat will assist Fenella in producing this plan. Some useful data can be gleaned from the documents produced for monitoring entities, but such data must be treated as confidential as that was the condition upon which they were provided to the Monitoring and Registration Sub-Group. It was agreed to work with samples of entities and to survey entities sparingly, if at all. The working group set up to assist in this process should consult regularly with the Steering Group via the Executive. A draft of the plan will be sent to entities for their feedback following preliminary approval by the Steering Group by July, following which the plan will be revised as needed, and finalised following discussion in Cape Town. The agreement with Update Software and the level of royalties from subscriptions to The Cochrane Library should be reviewed in developing the business plan, and signing the new agreement should be deferred until after the business plan has been produced.
9.2 It was agreed that Lisa Bero, Xavier Bonfill, Davina Ghersi, Jini Hetherington, Bongani Mayosi, Jim Neilson, Andy Oxman and Chris Williams should be invited to be members of the working group for developing the business plan. Jini and Andy will set up an email discussion list for this group. It is important for the working group to ensure that Fenella consults with consumers and users. The group should be an advisory group to work with Fenella in developing the business plan. It will report to the Steering Group through the Executive between now and October.
Action: Fenella, Andy, Jini
9.3 Concern was raised about the high level of revenue from the World Health Organisation from The Reproductive Health Library. Mike should discuss this with Mark and report back to the PPG.
In attendance: Cindy Mulrow (for items 31.1 - 31.3, which were discussed during the first hour);
Fenella Rouse (for entire meeting);
Bob Boruch and Dorothy de Moya (for entire meeting);
Philippa Middleton and Martin Offringa (for items 10 to 19).
10.2 Philippa and Pim were asked to produce a description of what needs to be done, which could be fed into the business plan. Issues of communication and feedback should be incorporated into this. The mandate of this group includes ascertaining who is doing what now, identifying additional activities that are needed, and developing proposals for how to implement and co-ordinate various activities directed at improving the quality of Cochrane reviews. This should include activities such as training for editors and peer reviewers. The primary focus should be on looking across reviews at mechanisms for improving quality.
Philippa was thanked for all her hard work in this area. She described the difficulties experienced in piloting a copy editing process. The separation of copy editing from scientific editing has proven to be difficult. Structural editing is also a problem, as existing standards are not always followed. Philippa was asked to write a description of her findings and plans for the next steps, and present it to the Executive for discussion during their next teleconference on 3 April 2000.
17.1 Bob Boruch described the recent inaugural meeting of this organisation, at which advice, encouragement, and generation of interest had been provided by representatives of the Cochrane Collaboration. Iain Chalmers had stepped down as liaison between the two Collaborations, and Andy agreed to ask Lisa Bero if she would be willing to take on this role. Jimmy offered to provide names of several people in Africa who would be interested in contributing to the Campbell Collaboration. Bob agreed to provide Jini with the text of a message to be sent to the CCINFO list about the inauguration of the Campbell Collaboration, which would include the Campbell Collaboration's web site address.
Action: Andy, Jini
17.2 Empirical Methodological Studies, Non-Randomised Studies, and Process Evaluation are three methods groups that might potentially become joint between the two organisations. It is hoped that these joint groups will be able to attract funding. Proposals for joint registration would have to go to the Monitoring and Registration Sub-Group for approval, as well as to a similar group within the Campbell Collaboration. Andy and Mike will identify four people from the Cochrane Collaboration to work with four people from the Campbell Collaboration in exploring possible joint methods groups.
Action: Andy, Mike
Mike was asked to develop guidelines for the Reviewers' Handbook regarding this.
19.1 CENTRAL/CCTR Advisory Group: Mike noted that if he and Peter took over the role of Chair and Deputy, he would need to step down from this Group. Ruth agreed to be the second CCSG member on the Group. Hilda volunteered to try to assess the extent of any difficulties that might arise for members of the Group who are from the same workplace, and report back to the Executive in their next teleconference.
19.2 Colloquium Policy Group: Jimmy advised that the Lancet had recently asked if they could sponsor a session at future Colloquia. The Colloquium Policy Group should devise some general principles to govern responses to such approaches, and bring these to the Steering Group for approval.
Action: Elena, Jimmy, Mark
19.3 Cochrane Library Users' Group: Elena agreed to draw attention at the Centre Directors' meeting to Ian Watt's proposal that Centres or groups of Centres establish local user groups to seek feedback on whether The Cochrane Library is meeting needs in their own specific localities.
19.4 Criticism Management Group: Andy advised that Suzanne Fletcher had agreed to join this Group, and Chris Cates had agreed to be its Convenor, on the understanding that the amount of time he can devote to this is limited.
19.5 Handbook Group: Mike advised that a major revision to the Reviewers' Handbook is planned for this year. Philippa Middleton was suggested and agreed to become a member of this Group, and her name should be added to the membership of this Group on the web site.
19.6 Manual Group: It was agreed that eventually the Cochrane Manual should appear on The Cochrane Library under the heading 'About the Collaboration', once missing sections have been added and existing text has been brought up to date. Any practical difficulties associated with this should be pursued through the Publishing Policy Group.
Peter explained that the nomination of himself and Mike, splitting the duties of Chair and Deputy Chair, had been made because of the huge workload that has fallen on past Chairs. Mike was willing to perform the role of Chair from October 2000 to March 2001 because of Peter's existing commitments, during which time he would not represent a specific entity (i.e. methods groups), although when he becomes Deputy Chair, he could continue to do this. Peter would take over as Chair in March 2001, but a new CRG representative at large should be elected to replace him from October 2000. Mike would delegate his responsibility for representing methods groups to someone else while he was Chair, and would then resume this role when he becomes Deputy Chair. His three-year term as methods groups' representative on the Steering Group is scheduled to end in October 2001. These proposals were accepted unanimously by the Steering Group, and should be disseminated to all entities.
21.1 On behalf of Gill as Convenor, Mark gave a report on the Monitoring and Registration Sub-Group's meeting held on Saturday 4 March. A vote of thanks was given to Linn Morgan for taking the minutes of the meeting, and also to Mark for convening the meeting on Gill's behalf. It was agreed that the Sub-Group should set up a working party to devise processes for handling changes of convenors, co-ordinating editors, changes of editorial bases, etc. Jini agreed to ask Claire to take on responsibility for checking whether entities had complied with requests from this Group, made at the time of registration. The Monitoring and Registration Sub-Group had not yet had sufficient time to review the large amount of material that had been collected as part of the process of monitoring Centres, and proposed to meet in Oxford in May. It was agreed to allocate discretionary funds to cover travel and accommodation costs of this meeting, to a maximum of 2,000 pounds. Two members of this group live outside the UK.
21.2 Centres: Thanks were extended to the Secretariat, particularly Claire, for the support she had provided in the process of handling the documents relating to the monitoring of Centres. The Group was asked to think through the role of Centres, and at their May meeting to look particularly for any areas of non-functioning. The Group would present a full and confidential report to the Steering Group via the Executive, and produce a second report for wider distribution which protected the anonymity of Centres. Mark should ask Monica Fischer to provide material from the Parent Database on the number of reviewers supported by each Centre.
21.3 Fields: Mark reported that monitoring documents on the eight Fields had been collected, and the data were currently being assessed.
21.4 Consumer Network: A draft monitoring checklist had been submitted, and would be revised in the light of comments and suggestions made by the Monitoring and Registration Sub-Group.
21.5 Collaborative Review Groups: The monitoring of CRGs was not discussed in detail at the meeting, since the first round had already been completed, and feedback had been given to CRGs at the Rome Colloquium. It was suggested that more detailed feedback would have been appreciated, after all the hard work that had gone into providing baseline material for the monitoring process. The CRG monitoring checklist has been revised and is ready to be administered in August 2000. The Sub-Group will ask CRGs to submit their completed checklists electronically. In addition, the Sub-Group has recommended that the following additional question be added to the CRG checklist: "Have each of the editors prepared and maintained at least one Cochrane Review?" The CDSR monitoring report produced by Monica Fischer is a valuable document for the monitoring of CRGs; however, in order for it to be helpful in August it needs to be maintained quarterly. The Sub-Group still needs one more representative from the CRGs.
Action: Chris, Davina, Jim
21.6 Methods Groups: It was agreed that in future it should be specified in advance that material gathered on methods groups would be shared with their reference Cochrane Centre. It was also agreed that each methods group should provide a brief statement of the specific ways in which that group is able to help members of the Collaboration.
21.7 Steering Group: The terms of reference proposed by Chris Silagy for monitoring the Steering Group were agreed. Andy will follow up on approaching the people whose names had been suggested to form the review panel and implement the process. The review panel should be told that teleconference expenses would be met from central funds. Mike agreed to discuss with Chris providing an appropriate response to the people who had already made specific comments to Chris about the Steering Group; he would also point out to Chris that ex-members of the Steering Group are a useful resource for monitoring it.
Action: Andy, Mike
21.8 Departure from the Steering Group: It was agreed that it would be useful if outgoing members gave an informal view of their perceptions of their time on the Steering Group just before leaving it. Outgoing members are responsible for passing on information to the people replacing them on the Steering Group, and information should be given in the welcome letter to new members to this effect.
Action: Andy, Jini
21.9 Documents produced by advisory groups: Jini was asked to let convenors of advisory groups to the Steering Group know that if they prepare documents for cross-entity circulation, they should be sent to the Secretariat to forward to the appropriate person/people to check for accuracy before being circulated. It was also suggested that this should apply to all cross-entity documents that contain guidance relevant to the conduct of Cochrane reviews or operational aspects of the Collaboration.
The CRG representatives should give guidance to the Secretariat as to what should be included in the Calendar of Events. Davina is already taking the lead on this, and Jini should ask Claire to collect and send all suggestions to her to decide if they are appropriate for inclusion. The calendar should be kept on the Collaboration web site and updated as needed.
Andy agreed to prepare a background document for the next Steering Group meeting in Cape Town, updating the list of priorities. Jim asked that consideration be given to providing software support to editorial bases to enable them to keep track of the status of reviews. Andy agreed to confirm with Monica Fischer that this is included in the proposed Information Management System.
Davina reported that the first teleconference of the Action Group had gone extremely well, and its members had appreciated the support of the Steering Group in facilitating this. Their request to fund three teleconferences a year to a maximum of 2,000 pounds was approved, commencing with the financial year beginning on 1 April 2000. The Steering Group extended thanks to those who participated in this teleconference, and also to Claire for her assistance.
Concern had been expressed about the results of Cochrane reviews appearing in paper journals before their publication in The Cochrane Library. Several recent examples of both the absence of attribution of the work to the Collaboration, and the lack of communication within the organisation when such work is being published in journals, have caused dissatisfaction within the organisation. Andy agreed to raise this at the Centre Directors' meeting and to draft some guidelines for consideration by the Steering Group, via the Publishing Policy Group, giving suggestions for communicating within the Collaboration, in order to avoid potential conflict. Concern had also been expressed about publications being inappropriately attributed to the Cochrane Collaboration through the affiliation of authors with the Collaboration, and Andy agreed to draft a disclaimer that could be used by people whose primary affiliation is with a Cochrane Centre.
In Gill's absence, it was agreed to defer discussion of proposed amendments to the Constitution to the next Steering Group meeting in Cape Town.
27.1 Women in the Cochrane Collaboration: Hilda agreed to identify someone to convene a working party on this issue, which would be asked to prepare proposals for addressing the problems identified in the document she prepared for this meeting, for the next Steering Group meeting in Cape Town.
27.2 Developing countries in the Cochrane Collaboration: It was agreed:
27.2.1 To canvas the views of members of the Collaboration with regard to adding a tenth principle: promoting inclusiveness by giving attention to gender, disability, and social, linguistic, cultural, racial, geographical, financial and technical barriers to participation.
27.2.2 To add to the monitoring and evaluation checklists of all entities a question about the number and gender of active participants from developing countries.
27.2.3 That all Centres with responsibility for developing countries, as well as other Cochrane entities, should be encouraged to engage actively in awareness raising and recruitment activities in developing countries, and to promote training and mentoring of reviewers in those countries through provision of manuals, slides, internet-based courses, translations and training fellowships.
Action: Centre reps
27.2.4 That widespread provision of The Cochrane Library to people in developing countries should be explored in the longer term, and in the short-term Centre Directors should be asked to discuss the best mechanism by which entities could donate individual subscriptions to identified people in developing countries.
Action: Centre reps
27.2.5 That Andy would follow up with Bob Boruch of the Campbell Collaboration to see whether an opportunity existed to pursue this with the World Bank.
27.2.6 Addressing imbalances within the Collaboration: Hilda and Jimmy were thanked and encouraged to circulate their findings widely within the Collaboration. Jini was asked to investigate with the editors of Cochrane News the possibility of publicising these findings in a special issue. Hilda was asked to extend the thanks of the Steering Group to all those whom she had acknowledged in her paper.
Action: Jini, Hilda, Jimmy
Davina reported on progress made in reviewing the electoral process. The group undertaking this review was asked to address the issue of how to obtain representation on the Steering Group across a number of different dimensions such as gender and developing country representation.
Discussion of this item was deferred until the next Steering Group meeting.
It was agreed that a decision about where to hold this meeting needed to be made by the beginning of April. It was also on the agenda of the Centre Directors' meeting for discussion the following day.
31.1 Timetabling of CCSG meetings during Cape Town:
It was agreed that the Steering Group would meet for a full day on Tuesday 24 October, and for half a day on Sunday 29 October. These dates and times should be publicised well in advance to avoid conflicts in scheduling meetings of other entities.
31.2 Cape Town 2000:
The draft programme schedule was discussed, and various priorities raised. It was suggested that the Co-ordinating Editors, Review Group Co-ordinators and Trials Search Co-ordinators might meet on Wednesday 25 October, and if this was agreeable to those groups, CRGs could be encouraged not to schedule their group meetings at that time. There should be fewer plenary sessions and more time for meetings. There should be time for a joint meeting between CRGs and Methods Groups. Time should be built into the schedule to allow people to get from one meeting to the next. People should give Jimmy feedback on specific aspects of the event, particularly on topics for plenary sessions.
31.3 Lyon 2001:
The progress report on this event was tabled for information only.
31.4 Location of the Colloquium in 2002:
No-one has as yet volunteered to host this Colloquium. The Colloquium Policy Group should be asked to discuss alternatives such as holding the event every two years, or making it an internal business meeting only, or alternating the balance from one year to the next between holding a scientific meeting and an internal business meeting.
32.1 Consolidation of the US Centers: Cindy Mulrow described the proposed plans for reorganising the US Centers into a single Center with three branches (in Boston, San Antonio and San Francisco). Mike Clarke suggested that the proposal should include more information about representation at Centre Director meetings, and management and location of the US web site. Cindy was asked to convey these reactions to the Directors of the other US Centers, with the request that the draft document outlining this proposal be revised and submitted to the Monitoring and Registration Sub-Group.
32.2 Visits with funders in the US: Andy reported on his recent visits with Monica Fischer to potential funders within the US exploring opportunities for funding the Collaboration. These funders included: the Commonwealth Fund, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Karen Hein of the William T Grant Foundation. They had also met with David Lipman, head of the National Center for Biotechnology Information, and Betsy Humphries, Head of Operations, at the National Library of Medicine, and visited the World Bank and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Andy said that these meetings had given him a positive perspective on funding opportunities within the US, provided that someone could be identified who would follow up on these opportunities. These opportunies will be explored further with the US Center Directors and as part of the business plan.
Action: Andy, Fenella
32.3 Geographical representation on the Steering Group: Discussion was held about possible ways of addressing under-representation on the Steering Group of people from certain geographic areas. Davina was asked to canvas suggestions for ways of doing this which would be passed on to the group which is reviewing the whole electoral process.
32.4 Steering Group agenda material: Thanks were extended to Jini for taking the minutes of the meeting, and to Claire for the organisation of the agenda material.
Main changes to the Cochrane Collaboration/Update Software Special Agreement
Verbal report by Mike Clarke to Steering Group (March 2000) following email discussions with Mark Starr (Update Software) and Monica Fischer (former liaison between the Collaboration and Update Software) during February 2000.
The following are the main changes between the new draft agreement and the current one:
1. The agreement will be with Update Software (rather than with Mark Starr).
2. The agreement will be for a fixed term of 3 years (rather than for a non-specific length).
3. The Cochrane Database of Methodology Reviews has been added.
4. The Cochrane Collaboration shall indemnify Update Software against liabilities arising from any claim that any of the material in the Cochrane Databases provided to Update Software infringes any intellectual property rights of any third party.
5. The possibility of reprints has been added, with the income from these going into the "pot" for royalties.
6. Contact reviewers will continue to get their free subscription to The Cochrane Library only if the "Date search last performed" in their review is within the last 12 months (rather than regardless of anything to do with when the review was last updated).
7. An annex has been added on the roles and responsibilities with regard to the Information Management System.
8. An annex has been added on the roles and responsibilities with regard to CENTRAL/CCTR.
9. An annex has been added to contain the Conditions of Publication form.
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