Minutes of meeting of the
Cochrane Collaboration Steering Group,
Cape Town, South Africa,
24 and 29 October 2000

[These minutes were approved by the Steering Group Executive on 12 December 2000.]



Advisory Group, CENTRAL/CCTR......................... 14, 41.2
Advisory Group, Cochrane Library Users' Group.................. 31.1.2, 31.2
Advisory Group, Colloquium Policy......................... 31.4
Advisory Group, Criticism Management....................... 31.5
Advisory Group, Handbook........................... 31.6
Advisory Group, Information Management System................... 31.7
Advisory Group, Manual............................. 31.3
Advisory Group, Quality............................. 31.1
Advisory Group, Software Development..................... 31.7
Annual General Meetings, plans for conducting.................. 8; 26
Articles of Association (Constitution) of the Collaboration.............. 25
Business Plan, report for the.......................... 11
CENTRAL/CCTR, distribution of........................ 14
Centre, Australasian, membership of steering committee of............. 27
Centres, training offered by........................... 38
'Clinical Evidence' and the BMJ, relationship with the Collaboration.......... 13.2
Cochrane Library, policy re commercial distribution of................ 13.1
Cochrane Library, policy re complimentary copies of.................. 16
Cochrane protocols, policy re timescale for conversion into reviews......... 18
Cochrane reviews, academic credit for...................... 18
Cochrane reviews, excluding trials from, for ethical reasons............. 19
Cochrane reviews, policy re timescale for updating................. 18
Collaboration priorities for the next two years.................... 21
Collaboration funding priorities......................... 22
Collaborative Review Groups, report from CRG reps and workload of........... 20
Colloquium, Cape Town (2000)......................... 1; 41.5
Colloquium, Lyon (2001)............................ 33
Colloquium, Oslo (2002)............................ 30
Colloquium, Ottawa (2004)........................... 33
Conflict of interest, developing a policy on..................... 36
Conflicts, handling: working together and resolving differences.............. 29
Connectivity, establishing and encouraging collaboration between entities....... 39
Consumer Network, monitoring......................... 28; 41.4
Copy editing pilot project............................. 31.1.4
Electoral process, review of........................... 24
Financial statements, Report and, of the Collaboration................... 6
Fund, discretionary............................... 23.2
Funders, meeting of................................ 9; 41.1
Funding, ad hoc for Steering Group and other members' expenses.......... 23.1
Funding, criteria for.............................. 23
Media guidance, preparation of......................... 37
Monitoring, of the Consumer Network...................... 28; 41.4
Monitoring, reports from Monitoring & Registration Sub-Group........... 28
Monitoring & Registration Sub-Group workload and responsibilities......... 28
Publishing, call for proposals.......................... 11; 15
Quality Advisory Group, checklist projects .................... 31.1.3
Review Development Manager......................... 12
RevMan................................... 20
Science Citation Index............................. 15
Secretariat.................................. 10
Secretariat, senior staff position in........................ 12
Steering Group, approval of previous minutes (San Antonio, March 2000)....... 2
Steering Group, funding of sub- and advisory groups................ 23.1
Steering Group, meeting in China........................ 33
Steering Group, meeting in São Paulo...................... 34
Steering Group, membership/convenors of sub- and advisory groups......... 5; 35
Steering Group, monitoring of.......................... 17
Steering Group, reports from sub- and advisory groups................ 31
Steering Group, spreadsheet of outstanding action items for members of......... 40
Steering Group, verbal reports from outgoing members of............... 4
Thomas C Chalmers Award............................ 41.3
Translation policy, problems identified with .................... 21
Treasurer, report from, and spreadsheet of current financial position......... 7
Update Software................................ 15
Web sites, status of Collaboration........................ 32

Minutes of meeting of the

Cochrane Collaboration Steering Group,

Cape Town, South Africa,
24 and 29 October 2000

[These minutes were approved by the Steering Group Executive on 12 December 2000.]

Present: Claire Allen, Gerd Antes, Hilda Bastian, Mike Clarke, Godfrey Fowler, Davina Ghersi, Gill Gyte, Jini Hetherington (minutes), Ruth Jepson, Peter Langhorne, Mark Lodge, Jim Neilson, Andy Oxman (Chair), Samuel Ochieng, Elena Telaro, Jimmy Volmink, David Wilkinson, Chris Williams.

In attendance: Pim Assendelft (for Item 31.1.1), Kay Dickersin (for Item 14), Philippa Middleton (for Items 17 and 31), Fenella Rouse (for majority of meeting), Mark Starr (for Items 14, 15 and 16), Peter Tugwell (for Item 17).

  1. Welcomes, apologies for absence, introductions, and approval of the agenda
    Andy Oxman welcomed everyone to the meeting, and gave apologies for absence from Youping Li and Brian Berman (incoming Field representative). He introduced the incoming new members, Samuel Ochieng (Consumer Network representative) and David Wilkinson (CRG representative), as well as Godfrey Fowler (new Company Secretary). It was noted that Jimmy Volmink might not be able to play a full part in the meeting because of his commitments as Colloquium organiser.
  2. Approval of minutes of previous meeting, San Antonio, 5/6 March 2000
  3. No further corrections to the minutes were suggested.

  4. Matters arising
  5. No additional items arising from the minutes of the previous meeting not already on the agenda were raised.

  6. Verbal reports from outgoing Steering Group members
    Andy led the thanks to Gill Gyte and Mark Lodge, who were stepping down from the Steering Group, for their contributions during the past three years. Peter led the thanks to Andy for his hard work during his two-year term as Chair.
  7. Proposed membership/convenors of Steering Group sub- and advisory groups
    The proposed membership was tabled. Peter explained that he and Mike had agreed that the reason for allocating people to certain sub-groups was to ensure that no-one would be a member of more than one, except on a temporary basis. Members should speak to either Peter or Mike before the 29 October meeting if they are not happy about the sub-group to which they have been allocated. It was agreed that Davina and Elena are the two Steering Group representatives on the Colloquium Policy Advisory Group.
  8. Report and Financial Statements of the Collaboration
    These documents were tabled, and the Treasurer, Mike Clarke, provided clarifications as necessary.
  9. Report from the Treasurer and spreadsheet of current financial position
    Thanks were extended to Mike and Jini for providing the monthly breakdown of the Collaboration's financial information.
  10. Plans for conducting the two Annual General Meetings
    Mike explained the way that the AGMs would be conducted, and noted that the agenda would be finalised under Item 26.
  11. Meeting of Collaboration's funders
    Andy explained that Chris Henshall and Ron Stamp of the NHS Executive had taken the initiative in setting up this meeting, which would take place on 27 October. Andy, Peter and Mike would represent the Steering Group. The aim of the meeting was to help to ensure adequate and sustainable funding for the Collaboration. Mike and Peter agreed to report back on those discussions at the 29 October Steering Group meeting.
    Action: Mike, Peter
  12. Secretariat
    There was no formal report from the Secretariat. Jini and Claire were thanked for their hard work in the Secretariat during the past year. Godfrey was asked to discuss with the incoming Chair who should be responsible for appraising Jini's performance in the coming year. Muir Gray had done this previously.
    Action: Godfrey, Mike
  13. Report for the Business Plan
    Fenella Rouse described the various people she had consulted in the process of writing her report, and expressed special thanks to Mark Starr for his provision of information on Update Software. She responded to the comments tabled in Mark Starr's memo during the subsequent discussion and clarified that the report represented her opinions. She clarified that she meant the whole organisation when she referred to "the Collaboration", rather than the Steering Group alone. Her nine key recommendations were discussed:

    Recommendation 1: To maintain comprehensive records and open financial statements for all its activities.

    Recommendation 2: To gather from the entities complete information that can be openly reported and analysed, describing the entities' sources of revenue and support, and to include, where possible, descriptions of contributed time, both salaried and unsalaried, in order to map a complete financial picture of the Collaboration's support.

    Steering Group response to Recommendations 1 and 2: It was agreed that the key challenge with regard to obtaining a clear picture of the Collaboration's finances is to obtain accurate data regarding infrastructure funding and resource needs for entities and core functions. Andy recommended taking a minimalist approach to collecting additional data from entities, and linking that to the monitoring process, focusing on infrastructure costs (salaries and operating costs), both current and projected. It was agreed that the Monitoring and Registration Sub-Group should take on this responsibility, and that Ruth and Mike should liaise on taking this forward. Chris volunteered to attempt to collect some data on the cost of producing individual reviews and to report back to the Steering Group meeting in February 2001.
    Action: Ruth, Mike, Chris

    Recommendation 3
    : To establish and test a continuous procedure to determine the priorities of funders and other users, to ensure their continued support and the relevance of the material produced.

    Steering Group response to Recommendation 3: It was agreed that the 27 October meeting of funders was a step towards establishing a process for determining and regularly reviewing the concerns of funders. The desirability of having a representative of funders on the Steering Group should be explored at the funders' meeting.
    Action: Andy, Mike, Peter

    Recommendation 4: To solicit bids from publishers (including The Cochrane Library's current publisher) to re-organise its publishing and distribution arrangement with the purpose of maintaining quality, increasing distribution and enhancing revenue, the bids to include open and transparent costing of all the elements of the publishing arrangement.

    Steering Group response to Recommendation 4: Mike, Peter, Hilda and Chris volunteered to put together a proposal for soliciting bids from publishers (including Update Software). The bids may be for part or all of the functions currently undertaken by Update Software, and may include other functions, as described in the report for the business plan. The need to maintain the involvement of the Collaboration in price setting and the possibility of including translation mechanisms were stressed.
  14. Action: Mike, Peter, Hilda, Chris

    Recommendation 5: To re-organise its products, where necessary, to make them relevant and useful to practitioners, policy makers, consumers and others, informed by its funders' and other users' needs and its publishing plan.

    Recommendation 6: To increase central control of its products in order to avoid duplication and plan marketing in conjunction with its publishers.

    Recommendation 7: To focus on strategic alliances to reach target markets and to reduce competition and duplication.

    Steering Group response to Recommendations 5, 6 and 7: There was general agreement that someone representing the Collaboration should be involved in negotiations of specialist databases until such time as an employee of the Collaboration is employed to be so involved. Mike was asked to request Update Software to provide details of their negotiations with large distributors to the Publishing Policy Group so that they can decide whether or not a representative of the Steering Group (Mike or Gerd) should participate in such negotiations. The definition of "large" should be agreed by the Publishing Policy Group.
    Action: Mike

    Further actions aimed at re-organising the Collaboration's products, increasing central control of these, and establishing strategic alliances to reach target markets will be taken into consideration in soliciting and evaluating bids from publishers and in establishing a new contract for publication of the Collaboration's products. A business manager may assume responsibility on behalf of the Collaboration for increasing control of its products and developing strategic alliances. However, it was agreed that establishing a position for a business manager should wait until after a new contract for publication of the Collaboration's products is finalised. Until then, the Steering Group would have this responsibility.

    Recommendation 8: To concentrate efforts on establishing contracts or funding agreements with national governments and organisations, and international organisations, when to do so would increase distribution and revenue.

    Steering Group response to Recommendation 8: The current policy that free access to The Cochrane Library is not provided in exchange for infrastructure funding was endorsed. It was noted that it is not possible to offer funders a discount on subscriptions to The Cochrane Library or the right to publish Cochrane reviews. It was agreed that the possibility of funding the infrastructure of the Collaboration through large subscriptions or contracts with national governments and organisations and international organisations should be explored as one model for ensuring adequate and sustainable funding for the Collaboration and, at the same time, improving access by ensuring that Cochrane output is free at the point of use.

    Recommendation 9: To agree on an independently corroborated budget for 'central activities', with the purpose of identifying the activities which would be most effectively funded from revenue from sales of the Cochrane Collaboration's products and determining their reasonable cost.

    Steering Group response to Recommendation 9:
    It was agreed that it would be helpful to seek corroboration of estimates of the resource requirements for what the Steering Group has identified as core functions of the Collaboration.
    Action: Jini

    After lengthy discussion of the nine recommendations contained in the report, it was agreed that Andy, Mike and Peter discuss its implications and produce a recommendation to the Steering Group for the steps that now need to be taken to produce a business plan for the Collaboration.
    Action: Andy, Mike, Peter

  15. New senior staff position
    It was agreed that Mike and Peter should revise the job description for this position in consultation with the CRG representatives, with the aim of filling the position as soon as possible. The role of this person will be to provide support to Collaborative Review Groups and the Steering Group for key activities related to the Steering Group's priorities that were agreed at their meeting in October 1999. The suggested title for the post was 'Review Development Manager'.
    Action: Mike, Peter
  16. Distribution of The Cochrane Library

    13.1 Policy re commercial distribution: The commitment to remain with commercial distribution of The Cochrane Library for the remaining three years of the five-year term previously agreed to, was revisited, and it was agreed not to extend this commitment further at this time in light of the impending call for proposals on publishing.

    13.2 Relationship with 'Clinical Evidence' and the BMJ: It was agreed that a clear memorandum of understanding is needed about the relationship of the Collaboration with the British Medical Journal's publication 'Clinical Evidence', and possibly a contract establishing a partnership. Jim was asked to discuss this issue with the Co-ordinating Editors and report their views to the Steering Group. Mike and Peter will arrange a meeting with Richard Smith (editor of the BMJ) and other representatives from the BMJ following the Colloquium. Jim also offered to attend that meeting if he could.
    Action: Jim, Mike, Peter
    Kay Dickersin reported on progress to date and noted the large number of problems with submissions to CENTRAL.  Only 29 of 174 submissions were error-free.  Davina was asked to consult the TSCs at their meeting the following day about their experience submitting their specialised registers to the New England Cochrane Center at Providence for forwarding to Update Software for inclusion on The Cochrane Library.  Kay and Mark will discuss with the CENTRAL/CCTR Advisory Group how best to retrieve those handsearching records that were submitted before 1999 which might no longer be in CENTRAL.  Mark noted that he did not regard Update Software as having exclusive rights to publish CENTRAL/CCTR.
    Action:  Davina, Kay, Mark Starr
  18. Update Software
    Mark Starr asked for clarification of the timescale for deciding the future of the Collaboration's publishing arrangements. Andy advised that a request for proposals would be circulated within two months, with the aim of reaching a decision at the Steering Group meeting in February 2001.

    There was discussion about whether information on new contracts with major distributors should be disseminated within the Collaboration to alert people to potential additional ways of accessing The Cochrane Library. It was agreed that information on subscribers by country should continue to be given to Cochrane Centres for information, but it should not be for disclosure. This aspect of publishing information on subscribers should be incorporated in the bids that will be sought from different publishers.
  19. Action: Mike, Peter, Hilda, Chris

    Mark Starr said he was following up with ISI on indexing Cochrane reviews in the Science Citation Index and would let the Steering Group know what progress was made.

  20. Report from CRG representatives on feedback received re complimentary copies of The Cochrane Library
    It was agreed that updating reviews within two and a half years from the date of first publication of a review or previous update, was a reasonable timescale upon which to base provision of a complimentary copy of The Cochrane Library. The impact of this policy should be reviewed in twelve months. This policy should be disseminated to all entities and included in The Cochrane Manual. Jim and Davina were asked to take the suggestion to Co-ordinating Editors and Review Group Co-ordinators of providing all CRGs with a number of extra disks of The Cochrane Library for special cases, and also canvas as to the most reasonable date for this policy to commence.
    Action: Jini, Jim, Davina
  21. Monitoring the Steering Group
    Peter Tugwell described the work to date of the review panel to monitor the Steering Group. One hundred and thirty-eight people had been surveyed by means of a questionnaire, with eighty-seven people responding. He will arrange for the members of the Steering Group to receive the individual (anonymised) comments that had been made, which did not appear in his overheads summarising the responses. He and Philippa Middleton agreed to take back to the review panel the suggestion of setting specific targets for the Steering Group against which it could be measured in two years' time. The panel will produce a written report on their findings for circulation. The process of monitoring the Steering Group would be taken to the next stage by the time of the Steering Group meeting in February 2001.
    Action: Peter Tugwell
  22. Should policy for updating Cochrane reviews be every two years instead of every year?
    Mike summarised feedback received from a recent workshop held in the UK to the effect that updating Cochrane reviews every year was not feasible for the editorial teams of many CRGs. After discussion, it was agreed that Collaboration policy should change to updating every two years, and Mike will revise the Cochrane Reviewers' Handbook accordingly. Jim and Davina would disseminate the decision to Co-ordinating Editors and Review Group Co-ordinators. The two-year term should commence from the date of first publication. This would also apply to published protocols, and it will be suggested that these should ordinarily be withdrawn after two years if they had not been converted into complete reviews.
    Action: Mike, Jim, Davina

    It was also agreed that Peter Gøtzsche's example of giving academic credit for substantive updates of Cochrane reviews (which is equivalent to preparing an original publication) should be widely publicised again via CCINFO and Cochrane News. Any other similar arrangements should also be widely disseminated within the Collaboration.
    Action: Jini
  23. Excluding trials from Cochrane reviews for ethical reasons
    It was agreed that this was an important question, but that it would require extensive consideration to change the current situation. Therefore, at this time, excluding trials from Cochrane reviews for ethical reasons will continue to be at the discretion of individual reviewers and editorial teams. This decision should be reported back to Jack Sinclair, who raised the issue.
  24. Action: Andy

  25. Report from CRG representatives, and CRG workload
    The CRG representatives reported that workload was not the burning issue it had been this time last year, and the challenge of updating reviews was the major concern. It should be fed back to the Software Development Group that the release of RevMan 4.1 had gone much smoother than the release of RevMan 4.0, and that this was appreciated by all concerned. Davina was asked to ensure that the monitoring dates for next year are included on the Calendar of Events.
    Action: Mike, Davina
  26. Priorities for the next two years
    The steps being taken in the near future to address the workload on CRGs should be made known to entities. Mike advised that Sonja Henderson was taking the lead on the issue of tracking reviews on behalf of the Software Development Group. Andy and Jim agreed to discuss the tracking issue with Tor-Arne Bertheussen and involve Sonja in that discussion.
    Action: Mike, Andy, Jim

    Problems identified by Update Software concerning the Collaboration's translation policy should be discussed at the next meeting of the Publishing Policy Group, before the policy is included in the Cochrane Manual.
  27. Action: Jini

  28. Funding priorities
  29. It was agreed that comments made at the Annual General Meetings should be taken into account when reviewing and seeking corroboration for our stated funding priorities. Comments on funding priorities should be sent to Jini. This should continue to be a standing item on all Steering Group meeting agendas.
    Action: Mike, Peter, Jini

  30. Criteria for funding

    23.1 Ad hoc funding for Steering Group and other members' expenses in attending sub- and advisory groups:
    Jini was asked to request the Convenors of these groups to produce a budget of expected expenses for the coming year, and submit these for consideration at the Steering Group meeting in February 2001. All such budgets should be considered together. In the interim, requests for funding for meetings of these groups would continue to be considered by the Steering Group Executive on an ad hoc basis.
    Action: Jini

    23.2 Discretionary fund:
    Peter and Mark were thanked for their paper on the criteria that should exist for considering requests for one-off funding. The entity representatives should advise their constituents of the existence of this discretionary fund as the need arises.
  31. Review of electoral process
    The committee who had prepared this document was asked to summarise the unanswered questions raised in the document that related specifically to the electoral process, and to solicit suggestions for answers to these from Steering Group members. This would be discussed again at the Steering Group meeting in February 2001.
    Action: Davina, Mark
  32. Articles of Association (Constitution) of the Collaboration
    Gill suggested that the content of the Business Plan could have an effect on changes needed in the Constitution of the Collaboration. Andy agreed to discuss this with Fenella Rouse, and report back to Mike and Peter if anything needed to be discussed by the Executive. Hilda agreed to revisit the updating of the Constitution and speak to it at the Steering Group meeting in February 2001.
    Action: Andy, Hilda
  33. Finalisation of plans for conducting the two Annual General Meetings
    Peter outlined the main issues he planned to address in the open discussion after the charity and trading company AGMs. Steering Group members were asked to give any suggestions to Peter for additional items to include in that session. The agendas for the AGMs were approved.
    Action: Everyone
  34. Membership of steering committee of Australasian Cochrane Centre
    Andy agreed to convey to Chris Silagy that the Steering Group approved his approaching Philippa Middleton to represent the Collaboration on the steering committee of the Australasian Cochrane Centre.
    Action: Andy

  35. Reports from the Monitoring and Registration Sub-Group (MRSG):

    Gill advised that the reports on the different types of entity would be put into a summary for dissemination throughout the Collaboration. This summary would not mention individual entities. The MRSG's remit to feed back suggestions to entities needs to be made clearer. The MRSG and the Consumer Network should have some joint discussion during the Colloquium and provide some feedback to the 29 October meeting of the Steering Group. Gill reported that funding is a major issue for a large number of CRGs. Peter should raise this during the open discussion after the Annual General Meetings.
    Action: Gill, Ruth, Hilda, Peter

    The recommendations of the MRSG regarding their workload and responsibilities were accepted. It was agreed to fund the next face-to-face meeting of the MRSG to a maximum of 4,000 pounds sterling. Jini was asked to see that the paper on the workload of the MRSG is sent to the review panel that is monitoring the Steering Group, along with copies of the monitoring checklists used for each type of entity. Thanks were extended to the MRSG, in particular to Gill, for their extremely hard work on the monitoring process. Gill thanked Claire for her hard work in supporting the MRSG. For the coming year, the Secretariat will continue to provide secretarial support to the MRSG. The description of the membership of the group will be modified in the Manual to reflect the proposed changes.
    Action: Jini, Ruth
  36. Handling conflicts: working together and resolving differences
    It was agreed that there is a need to provide a resource to which people could come if they are unable to resolve conflicts themselves or with support from others in their entity or their supporting Cochrane Centre. Gill agreed to be a second Ombudsperson for the Collaboration (in addition to Chris Silagy) and to bring together others interested in conflict resolution to handle such conflicts and to take appropriate actions to support the prevention and resolution of conflicts within the Collaboration.
    Action: Gill
  37. Colloquium in 2002
    Andy advised that he had canvassed for a host for the 2002 Colloquium. The Oslo branch of the Nordic Centre had volunteered to host a small, internally focussed meeting. No other offers had been put forward. It was agreed that this meeting would be in July so that university facilities could be used to keep down the costs of the meeting.
  38. Matters arising from advisory group reports

    It was noted that the bi-annual reports of Advisory Groups to the Steering Group should be no longer than two pages, and that clarity was particularly important.

    31.1.1 Quality Advisory Group (QAG)
    : Philippa Middleton and Pim Assendelft were welcomed to the meeting. Philippa described how the judging process for the Kenneth Warren Prize had generated a lot of useful data that could be used by the QAG. It was agreed that the remit of the QAG should include being proactive and that they would provide feedback to the review development manager. Mike explained that the job description for this new position is yet to be designed. It was agreed that Peter, Mike, Jim, Davina, Philippa and Pim should work together on this initially. They should disseminate the proposal widely within the Collaboration as part of the consultation process before the post is advertised.
    Action: Peter, Mike, Jim, Davina, Philippa, Pim

    31.1.2 Duplication of the work of the Cochrane Library Users' Group (CLUG)
    : Philippa explained that she had had discussions with Ian Watt, Convenor of CLUG, and had agreed with him the importance of avoiding duplication of effort. Fenella Rouse drew attention to the independent assessment of The Cochrane Library, which had been done for her report on the Business Plan. Philippa and Pim were asked to beta test the next generation of The Cochrane Library.

    31.1.3 Checklist projects: Philippa described how the QAG intends to collate existing checklists from CRGs as a central resource to CRGs. She noted that statistical checklists are being dealt with separately, by the Statistical Methods Group. A generic checklist is being planned for editorial teams to tailor to their own processes, linked to existing Collaboration policies.

    31.1.4 Copy editing pilot project: Philippa reported that 'copy editing' necessarily includes structural editing, and should not be thought of as a way of saving time: rather, it is likely to increase the workload of CRGs. However, it does meet the aim of improving the quality and accessibility of reviews. For all new protocols, new reviews and updates to be copy edited, she estimated that it would take a minimum of a half-time person. Philippa suggested, for the short-term, that the current pre-publication editing project should continue, while employing other strategies in the medium to longer term. She volunteered to spend twenty hours per week for a year working on issues related to quality of reviews. The Steering Group expressed great appreciation of this offer and accepted it. She was asked to concentrate on structural issues. She would continue to edit material sent by CRGs for the next cycle of The Cochrane Library.

    31.2 Cochrane Library Users' Group (CLUG)
    : Mike would ask Ian Watt, as Convenor of CLUG, to provide the national breakdown of members of the Group for the next Executive meeting and, if possible, to indicate how many members were actively involved in the Cochrane Collaboration. There was discussion surrounding giving feedback to Update Software on the next generation of The Cochrane Library. It was agreed that Update Software should be informed of the Steering Group's concern about the next generation, and that they should be given a strong recommendation not to release this without taking account of comments from the Steering Group. It was noted that the Steering Group needed to be given access to the test version as soon as possible.
    Action: Mike, Peter

    31.3 Cochrane Manual Group: Mark Lodge was thanked for convening this Group and agreeing to disband it, responsibility being taken over by the Secretariat. It was agreed that no statements would be made in the Manual about individual entities without the express consent of the entity concerned.

    31.4 Colloquium Policy Advisory Group (CPAG): Elena reported that the CPAG had met during the Colloquium. Kay Dickersin had stepped down as Convenor, and Alessandro Liberati had agreed to become Co-Convenor with Jeremy Grimshaw. The CPAG had agreed that CRGs should have an extra representative on it, and would suggest someone soon. It was agreed not to make any commitment to changing the format or size of future Colloquia until the experience of the 2001 and 2002 meetings had been obtained.

    31.5 Criticism Management Group: Davina reported that RGCs had expressed discontent with the management of comments and criticisms of Cochrane reviews. Jim reported that the Co-ordinating Editors were also unhappy about the way these had been handled. Hilda agreed to ask Chris Cates, as Convenor of the Criticism Management Group, to describe the nature of the difficulties with the existing system, which she would report back to the Executive.
    Action: Hilda

    31.6 Handbook Group
    : The report of this Group was received. Mike clarified that Andy Oxman remains a co-editor of the Cochrane Reviewers' Handbook.

    31.7 Software Development Group: There were no objections to the group changing its name to the Information Management System Group, and to a Contact Management Advisory Group being established. It was also agreed in principle that the IMS Group should expand its membership to be international, but the cost implications were recognised. The feasibility of this expansion should be addressed when the IMS Group submits a proposed budget for its meetings.
    Action: Mike
  39. Status of Collaboration mirror web sites
    Gerd explained the resource issues involved in maintaining all the official mirror sites of the Collaboration's web pages. He was asked to investigate the minimum number of mirror sites required, and advise the CCSG via e-mail on the resources needed to maintain the minimum number of sites, giving recommendations as to which mirrors should be switched off. He explained that the funding situation for maintaining the minimum number of mirror sites is still not resolved.
    Action: Gerd
  40. Plans for future Colloquia

    Lyon: It was agreed that the Steering Group would have an all-day meeting on Monday 8 October 2001, and have a telephone conference the week before the Colloquium. It was also agreed to advise Margaret Haugh that they might need to meet a second time, on Saturday 13 October, during one of the slots set aside for small group meetings.
    Action: Jini

    : It was agreed to advise Youping Li that the Steering Group would be happy to hold its mid-year meeting in February 2002 in China.
    Action: Jini

    : It was agreed to accept the offer of the Oslo branch of the Nordic Cochrane Centre to host an internally focussed business meeting in Oslo in July 2002. It was anticipated that this meeting would include workshops and poster sessions.
    Action: Jini

    : It was agreed to accept the offer of the Canadian Cochrane Centre to host a full Colloquium in 2004, probably in Ottawa.
    Action: Jini
  41. Steering Group meeting in São Paulo: It was agreed that Jini should discuss with Alvaro Atallah of the Brazilian Cochrane Centre whether any options existed for rearranging the scheduling of the meetings of the Steering Group and Centre Directors in São Paulo in February 2001, and report back to the Executive with any such options. It was agreed that the Centre Directors would be canvassed at the same time to see if they would agree to meet before the Steering Group.
    Action: Jini, Gerd
  42. Membership/convenors of Steering Group sub- and advisory groups
    The proposed membership of the sub- and advisory groups was accepted with the following slight amendment: Chris Williams would remain on both the Executive and the Publishing Policy Group. Jimmy Volmink had agreed to be Deputy Convenor of the Monitoring and Registration Sub-Group. It was agreed to discuss any concerns about the possibility of conflict of interest in convenorship of Advisory Groups at the Steering Group meeting in February 2001.
    Action: Mike
  43. Developing a conflict of interest policy
    Hilda agreed to finalise the draft document she had prepared earlier this year. All members of the Steering Group were encouraged to send her additional feedback to that of Mike and Peter as soon as possible. The revised document will be discussed at the Steering Group meeting in February 2001.
    Action: Hilda
  44. Report on the preparation of media guidance
    It was agreed that Mike should revise but not expand the draft guidance. This should be tabled at the Steering Group meeting in February 2001. The further development of the guidance should be considered in the light of the business plan for the Collaboration and the expanded Secretariat.
    Action: Mike
  45. Training offered by Centres
    Davina spoke to the problems of the most appropriate Cochrane Centre or other place to obtain training in doing reviews. Mike noted that advice on this should be the responsibility of the possible Training and Support Methods Group whose members had agreed during the Colloquium to prepare an application to register with the Collaboration. The proposed review development manager should be given the responsibility for pulling together and disseminating information on the provision of training within the Collaboration.
  46. Establishing connectivity and encouraging collaboration between entities
    Mark was thanked for his paper. His recommendation that connectivity and collaboration between entities should be built into the monitoring process was accepted.
    Action: Ruth
  47. Spreadsheet of outstanding action items for CCSG members
    It was agreed that a spreadsheet of outstanding action items should be appended to the minutes of meetings and teleconferences of the Steering Group.
    Action: Claire
  48. Any other business:

    41.1 Feedback from funders' meeting: Peter reported on the productive three-hour, 27 October meeting of a dozen people representing funders from Australia, the UK, the US, WHO, the Dutch Ministry of Health, and the South African Medical Research Council. This was attended by Mike, Andy and himself. The meeting had been followed up by a second smaller meeting to decide on an action plan. A memorandum of basic principles will be drawn up and a teleconference will take place towards the end of 2000 and a face-to-face meeting in mid-2001, with a view to a more formal meeting of funders during the 2001 Colloquium. This would involve other funders who, due partially to the short notice of the first meeting, had not so far been involved in the discussions. Peter agreed to circulate the statement that was being prepared summarising the two meetings that had taken place during the Colloquium.
    Action: Peter

    41.2 CENTRAL/CCTR: Ruth and Elena reported on the meeting they had attended of this Advisory Group held during the Colloquium. Carol Lefebvre will suggest a slightly amended name for the trials register in The Cochrane Library, for use while "CCTR" is temporarily withdrawn for improvement. This alternative name should be proposed to the Publishing Policy Group for approval.
    Action: Ruth, Elena

    41.3 Thomas C. Chalmers Award: Davina explained that the committee for this award wanted to adopt broader criteria, so that the award is made in future simply for 'the best paper'. It was agreed that the Colloquium Policy Advisory Group should be asked to make a recommendation on this in time for the 2001 Colloquium.
    Action: Davina

    41.4 Monitoring of the Consumer Network
    : Ruth reported that she and Hilda had agreed that Hilda would provide reports on the Consumer Network's development plans in time for the next MRSG meeting in February 2001.
    Action: Hilda

    41.5 Contact with reviewers:
    Jini advised that she is in discussion with Georg Koch and Rasmus Moustgaard about establishing an e-mail list for contact reviewers.

    41.6 Thanks to Mark Lodge: Thanks were expressed to Mark for attending the Steering Group meeting on Brian's behalf.

    .7 Thanks to Jimmy Volmink: Thanks were expressed to Jimmy and his colleagues for the success of the Cape Town Colloquium.