Minutes of meeting of the

Cochrane Collaboration Steering Group


[These minutes were approved by the Steering Group Executive on 4 December 2003.]





Advisory Group, Cochrane CENTRAL


[Advisory] Group, Cochrane Library Users’


Advisory Group, Colloquium Policy


Advisory Group, Criticism Management

3.18.7, 24.8

Advisory Group, Handbook

18.3, 24.9

[Advisory] Group, Information Management System


Advisory Group, Quality

18.4, 24.11

Animal studies, systematic reviews of


Annual General Meetings

5.3, 5.3.3

Auditors, appointment of


Behaviour, process for dealing with unacceptable


Business Plan, development of


Campbell Collaboration, liaison

3.18.11, 24.15

CENTRAL Advisory Group


CENTRAL, work done by the US Cochrane Center on


Centres, establishing new

Centres, report from entity representatives


Centres, responsibilities of Directors and staff


Chief Executive Officer, report from


Cochrane Library Users’ Group


Cochrane review, cost of producing  a

Cochrane reviews, contact information for reviewers and co-reviewers of

9.1, 24.10.2

Cochrane reviews, inclusion of information on harms in


Cochrane reviews, of diagnostic test accuracy


Cochrane reviews, outcome specific


Cochrane reviews, quality of


Cochrane reviews, updating of


Collaborative Review Groups, report from entity representatives


Colloquium Policy Advisory Group


Colloquium, Melbourne, 2005


Colloquium, Ottawa, 2004


Colloquium, sponsored registration for each entity for Ottawa


Comments and criticisms, process of


Commercial sponsorship and The Cochrane Collaboration

12, 29.1, 29.3

Company Secretary, new


Conflict of interest on corporate sponsorship

12, 29.1, 29.3

Conflicts of interest, declarations by Steering Group members


Constitution (Articles of Association), changes to the


Consumer Network


Contingency Fund expenditure


Criticism Management Advisory Group

3.18.7, 24.8

Developing country initiative

8.2, 24.17

Developing country representation on the Steering Group

8.2, 24.17

Diagnostic test accuracy, report from working group on Cochrane reviews of


Discretionary Fund expenditure


Exchange Fellowship, Cochrane Collaboration


Executive, canvassing for dates of teleconferences


Fields, representation on the Steering Group

8.1, 25.3, 29.2

Fields/Networks, report from entity representative


Finance, Contingency Fund expenditure


Finance, cost of producing a Cochrane review

Finance, current situation and cash flow forecast


Finance, Discretionary Fund expenditure


Finance, registration of entities at Cochrane Colloquia


Finance, report and financial statements


Finance, support for Information Management System

9.3, 9.4

Finance, table of risk assessment


Funders’ Forum


Funding, sponsorship and, by the pharmaceutical industry

12, 29.1, 29.3

Handbook Advisory Group

18.3, 24.9

Harms in Cochrane reviews, inclusion of information on


Information Management System Group


Information Management System, financial support for training needs


Information Management System, mandatory aspects of


Information Management System, progress report and development of


Information Management System, software platform for


Information Management System, support/training person(s) for


Joanna Briggs Institute, relationship with


MeerKat, proposal for support and development of

21, 25.1.1

Methodological support, improving within The Cochrane Collaboration


Methods Groups, report from entity representative


Monitoring and Registration Group, report and budget from




Open learning resources

Publication Arbiter


Publishing Policy Group, canvassing for dates of teleconferences


Publishing Policy Group, future role and membership of

6, 24.2

Quality Advisory Group

18.4, 24.11

Quality Improvement Manager, report and recommendations from


Risk assessment, table of


Service Level Agreement with Hilda Bastian

16, 25.5.2

Sponsorship and funding by corporate bodies and pharmaceutical industry

12, 29.1, 29.3

Steering Group meetings at the next two Cochrane Colloquia

27.1, 27.2

Steering Group, continuity of the Chair of


Steering Group, developing country representation on


Steering Group, Field representation on

8.1, 25.3, 29.2

Steering Group, membership of sub- and advisory groups of

6, 24

Steering Group, monitoring of


Steering Group, next two meetings of (in Bergamo and Ottawa)


Steering Group, outstanding action items


Steering Group, report from Co-Chairs of


Systematic reviews of animal studies


Teleconferences, finding dates for sub-group


Trading Company, report from Directors of


Transcultural sensitivities

US Cochrane Center, work done on CENTRAL by


Web site, strategic future of the Collaboration’s


Web site for consumers, service level agreement with Hilda Bastian

16, 25.5.2



 Minutes of meeting of the

Cochrane Collaboration Steering Group

Barcelona, Spain
25, 29 and 30 October 2003

[These minutes were approved by the Steering Group Executive on 4 December 2003.] 


Present:  Claire Allen, Gerd Antes, Kathie Clark, Mike Clarke (Chair for items 24 to 30), Mark Davies, Jon Deeks, Vittorio Demicheli (first and second meetings only), Davina Ghersi, Sally Green, David Henderson-Smart, Jini Hetherington (minutes), Monica Kjeldstrøm, Steff Lewis, Alessandro Liberati (for item 26.1 only), Jim Neilson (Chair for items 1 to 23), Samuel Ochieng (first meeting only), Jordi Pardo, Kim Pollard (second and third meetings only), Nick Royle, Silvana Simi (first and second meetings only), Peter Tugwell (second meeting only), and Janet Wale.

1.    Welcomes, apologies for absence, introductions, and approval of the agenda
Jim welcomed everyone to the meeting, in particular Janet Wale who would become a member of the Steering Group formally at the Annual General Meetings on 29 October 2003.  Apologies had been received from Peter Tugwell for the first of the Steering Group meetings in Barcelona.  The agenda was approved.

2.    Declarations by Steering Group members of potential conflicts of interest
Monica Kjeldstrøm declared a potential conflict of interest in any discussions of the Information Management System, and said that she was also representing the Trading Company Directors at this meeting.  No other general potential conflicts of interest were declared, but it was noted that conflicts of interest on specific items should be raised at the relevant part of the meeting.

3.    Matters arising from minutes of previous meeting, not on this agenda

9.2                        Final report and recommendations from the Quality Improvement Manager:  Sally reported that one of the appendices to Nancy Owens’ report, containing a wealth of information about CRG editorial processes, had been reformatted and was ready to be put onto the Collaboration web site with links to the resources mentioned in it.  She was given approval to use the Review Group Co-ordinators’ e-mail discussion list (‘adminors’) to approach individual RGCs to ensure accurate links to these resources, and would be asking those RGCs attending the Barcelona Colloquium for their views as to whether the appendix of CRG editorial processes should be made available on the web site immediately, or not until some quality assurance checks had been made, and examples of best practice had been identified (see also item 24.11 below). 
Action:  Sally

15.1          Centre Directors’ recommendations re responsibilities of Directors and staff:  Gerd and Sally advised that they would report on this after discussion at the Centre Directors’ meeting on 26 October 2003. 
Action:  Gerd, Sally

15.2          Process for dealing with problems involving unacceptable behaviour:  Nick reported that work on this matter was in progress.
Action:  Nick

18.2.2       Establishing new Cochrane Centres:
  Sally reported that the Centre Directors had agreed that there may be potential for establishing Cochrane Centres in areas of the world with poor coverage (for example, in south-east Asia).  Kathie reminded everyone that it had been agreed in Melbourne "that the Steering Group should look strategically at whether there are specific gaps in the geographical coverage of The Cochrane Collaboration that would benefit from the establishment of additional Centres.  It was also agreed that this strategic review (which was labelled as an important but non-urgent issue) should also seek to identify any specific gaps in the Collaboration’s coverage of areas of health care."  In the MRG report to this meeting of the Steering Group, the MRG had provided suggestions that the Steering Group should form a working group, and who should be included in its membership.  Gerd reported that a meeting was to take place during the Colloquium to discuss responsibility for French contributors to The Cochrane Collaboration.    
Action:  Nick, Gerd

18.2.5       Open learning resources:  Kathie reported that the MRG had discussed this, and had felt that it would be inappropriate for them to be involved in following up on this matter.  It was therefore agreed that the committee that is being formed as part of the Handbook Advisory Group to manage open learning material should take this on after the Barcelona Colloquium (see also item 24.9 below).
Action:  Sally

18.7          Criticism Management Advisory Group: 
Mike reported that it should be possible to propose a new Convenor (or Co-Convenors) for this Group in November, and that he would circulate details to the Steering Group and the members of the CMAG to canvas their opinions as soon as possible (see also item 24.8 below).
Action:  Mike

18.11        Cochrane-Campbell liaison:  Jini reported that Harris Cooper would be attending the second Steering Group meeting to represent The Campbell Collaboration.

19.1.2       Cost of producing a Cochrane review:  Nick reported that Miranda Mugford had been commissioned to work on this project, and that the results would be reported to the Steering Group when they are ready.

19.1.4       Transcultural sensitivities:  Jordi reported that he is preparing a short paper based on a longer document that Michele Deeks had produced for The Cochrane Collaboration, for discussion by the Steering Group at its next meeting at the end of February 2004.
Action:  Jordi
24             Cochrane Collaboration Exchange Fellowship:  Sally reported that she would shortly be handing over to the Secretariat the materials needed to administer this fellowship.  The Quality Advisory Group would provide a selection committee from among its members when applications had been received.  The existence of the Fellowship should be publicised via the entity e-mail lists, CCInfo and Cochrane News.
Action:  Sally, Jini
26             ‘Comments and Criticisms’ process:  It was agreed that a new system should be established for handling comments and criticisms of Cochrane reviews on the web site.  This would be discussed at a separate meeting on 28 October 2003.  Jim or Mike would report back to the Steering Group via e-mail after the Colloquium.
Action:  Jim, Mike

29             Changes to the Constitution of The Cochrane Collaboration:  This item was deferred for consideration at the next meeting of the Steering Group at the end of February 2004.
Action:  Mike, Jini

4.    Report from the Co-Chairs
Mike reported that he and Jim would be highlighting the following items in their presentation during the Opening Ceremony of the Barcelona Colloquium:  the new publishing arrangement with Wiley, the appointment of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the new Strategic Plan, the future development of the Information Management System (IMS), the various ongoing copy editing projects, the conversion of Colloquia abstracts into electronic format, the availability of funds for work on CENTRAL, and the decision about Cochrane reviews of diagnostic test accuracy.
Action:  Jim, Mike

5.    Financial and legal matters:

5.1            Cash flow forecast, and current financial position:  Nick explained that the Collaboration’s current financial position is relatively strong but that, on current forecasts, reserves would drop below the proposed contingency fund level in the financial year 2007-08.  The cash flow forecast enables forward planning during the length of the contract with John Wiley and Sons.  Nick reported that he had received conservative figures from Wiley for income during the coming years.  Mike drew attention to the grant of 30,000 US dollars that had been made by the Rockefeller Foundation:  this had funded the Kenneth Warren Prize for 2003 and had also provided 15,000 US dollars towards developing country stipends for the Barcelona Colloquium.  Mike undertook to write to the Rockefeller Foundation after the Colloquium to thank them again, and to describe how their grant had been spent.
Action:  Mike

5.2            Discretionary and Contingency Fund expenditure

5.2.1         Discretionary Fund: 
Mike suggested that consideration be given to raising the ceiling of the Discretionary Fund to £3,000 per item, with a £15,000 annual limit.  This was agreed, to take effect immediately, and the decision should be announced to all entities and reflected in the Cochrane Manual.
Action:  Jini 

5.2.2         Contingency Fund:  Mike suggested that the emergency reserve to maintain the central functions of The Cochrane Collaboration for one year should be £350,000 in recognition of the increased size of the Secretariat and costs of The Cochrane Collaboration.  This was agreed, and the decision should be reflected in the spreadsheet showing the Collaboration’s current financial position that is considered by the Executive and the Trading Company Directors on a monthly basis.
Action:  Jini

       5.3                        Annual General Meetings (AGMs):  It was agreed that the Steering Group and Trading Company Directors should be seated at one end of the meeting room during the Annual General Meetings, facing the participants and on the same floor level as them.  Jim would introduce the members of the Steering Group and the Trading Company Directors by showing a PowerPoint presentation of a photograph of each person.  He would also explain at the start of the meeting that the Trading Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Charity, and that the AGMs of both companies were occurring concurrently.

5.3.1         Report and Financial Statements:  There were no questions about these documents that had been circulated to all entities via e-mail well in advance of the Colloquium.

5.3.2         Table of risk assessment:  This table, which is a requirement of the auditors, was noted but not discussed.

5.3.3         Agenda, format and conduct of the AGMs:  The final agenda of the Annual General Meetings was discussed and agreed.  The Chair of the Selection Panel, Bongani Mayosi, would present the Kenneth Warren Prize to the winner at the beginning of the meeting.  Jim would chair the meeting for agenda items 1 to 3 and 10, and would ask Jos Kleijnen (Director of the Trading Company) to chair the meeting for agenda items 4 to 9. 
Action:  Jim

5.3.4         New Company Secretary:  Jini was absent from the meeting for the following discussion, arising from the fact that Malcolm Newdick had resigned as Company Secretary of both the Charity and the Trading Company, with effect from 29 October 2003.  The Trading Company Directors had asked Jini to take on this responsibility.  Concern was expressed by the Steering Group that Jini should not be put in a position of conflict or compromise, and it was agreed to invite her to become Company Secretary of the Charity as well as of the Trading Company, with the Steering Group (i.e. the Treasurer) signing off on the audited accounts.  Jini returned to the meeting and was asked to become Company Secretary of both companies.  She accepted this role and was asked to inform Companies House.
Action:  Jini

5.3.5         Appointment of auditors:  It was agreed to recommend the reappointment of the existing auditors, Mazars, at the Annual General Meetings.  Jini should advise all interested parties of this decision.
Action:  Jini

6.    Membership of the Steering Group’s sub- and advisory groups
A grid of proposed membership of sub- and advisory groups for the year to October 2004 was circulated to all members of the Steering Group at the meeting.  Jim encouraged anyone who was unhappy with the group(s) to which they had been provisionally allocated for the coming year to speak to him or Mike before the second Steering Group meeting on 29 October 2003.  At this second meeting there were no objections to the proposed membership of sub- and advisory groups.  Nick, Silvana and Janet were asked to discuss how best to represent the interests of the Consumer Network on the Publishing Policy Group.
Action:  Nick, Silvana, Janet

7.    Comments from outgoing Steering Group members
Vittorio spoke about the heavy time commitment involved in being a member of the Steering Group, but said that he had enjoyed this experience.  Samuel echoed his remarks, and highlighted the progress that had been made on the developing country initiative, and various quality improvement projects.  Jim thanked them both very much for their contributions to the work of the Steering Group.

8.    Field representation on the Steering Group

8.1                        Field representation:  Vittorio reported that only four Fields had entered into the discussion of the issue of no-one having come forward to replace him on the Steering Group in the 2003 elections.  It had been proposed by that group that there should be two Field representatives on the Steering Group to share the workload.  Jim said that there was no strong argument for this, as reflected in the results of the survey of entities that Davina had conducted fairly recently with respect to the balance of entity representation on the Steering Group.  Jon supported the suggestion of a job-share for those entities that only had one representative on the Steering Group (i.e. Fields and Methods Groups), with two people sharing the one representative position.  Kathie suggested that perhaps one representative could attend the Steering Group meetings, and the other could join the Monitoring and Registration Group and attend the meetings of that group.  All Steering Group members were asked to canvas for interest among Field members during the Colloquium, and this issue should be revisited at the next Steering Group meeting on 29 October 2003 (see also item 29.2 below). 
Action:  All Steering Group members

       8.2                        Developing country representation:  Sally pointed out that there would not be a Steering Group member based in a developing country once Samuel stepped down.  She was asked to discuss this issue with Xavier Bonfill who is responsible for taking the lead in the ‘developing country initiative’ (see also item 24.17 below). 
Action:  Sally

9.    Status of the new Information Management System

9.1                        Mandatory elements of the IMS: 
Monica re-introduced the need for an information management system (IMS) in The Cochrane Collaboration, and gave a report on progress to date.  She suggested that the following parts of the IMS should be mandatory for CRGs:  Contact Management, Document Management and RevMan.  She recommended that the last component of the new IMS, Tracking and Workflow Management, should not be mandatory.  This was agreed by the Steering Group.  With respect to Contact Management, it was agreed that because of the need to facilitate document-sharing related to the production of reviews, it should be mandatory from the outset to maintain the contact details of editorial base members of Collaborative Review Groups (i.e. Review Group Co-ordinators, Trials Search Co-ordinators and Co-ordinating Editors), all other editors and all contact reviewers.  It should also be mandatory for the contact people of all other entities to be entered into and maintained in the Contact Database.  This should come into effect by July 2004, and Monica would disseminate this decision and timetable to all entities.  See also item 24.10 below, relating to the decision to add non-contact reviewers to the list of people whose contact details should be in the Contact Database, since they sign the Permission for Publication form, and may have limited details of their address (institution and country) published in Cochrane reviews.
Action:  Monica

9.2                        Choosing a software platform for the IMS: 
Monica also drew attention to the fact that the Information Management System Group (IMSG) had recommended that an independent consultant should be approached for an evaluation of the IMS Team’s recommendation on the most appropriate software platform for the document management component of the new IMS.  Nick was asked to continue trying to obtain such independent advice.  Gerd agreed to ask the Centre Directors at their meeting in Barcelona for help in identifying whether there was someone in the Collaboration who would be qualified to check the advisability of opting for the recommended solution.  Monica reported that the saving by proceeding with that solution would be approximately £25,000. 
Action:  Nick, Gerd
9.3                        IMS central support person(s)/trainer(s): 
The Steering Group approved the outline budget for this initiative in principle.  Monica explained that she would be circulating a draft proposal widely as soon as the appropriate consultations within the Collaboration had taken place, before recruitment was initiated to fill the position(s).  Nick was asked to keep the need for this support under annual review.
Action:  Monica, Nick

9.4                        Financial support for IMS training needs: 
The above discussion led to consideration of financial support for meetings in the UK, Continental Europe, Australia and, possibly, elsewhere specifically to train editorial staff in the use of the Information Management System.  Monica was asked to provide a written proposal for the Steering Group to consider.
Action:  Monica

10.  Work done by the US Cochrane Center on CENTRAL in the past year
Mike explained that the US Cochrane Center had requested an extension of the period within which this work should be completed (at no extra cost), and that this had been approved in principle by the Steering Group Executive.  The Steering Group saw no problem with this, and Mike agreed to let Kay Dickersin know.
Action:  Mike

11.  Registration of entities at Cochrane Colloquia
Mike explained that some entities were not being represented at all Colloquia, and suggested that the registration fee might be a barrier to attendance.  It was agreed to provide a Collaboration-sponsored registration fee to every entity for the Ottawa Colloquium from core funds.  This would be a sensible way of distributing funds fairly throughout the organisation.  The early registration fee for Ottawa will be $750 CDN (approximately £336 sterling) per entity (totalling approximately £28,560 sterling for all 85 entities).  The Steering Group would assess after the Ottawa Colloquium whether this should be repeated for future Colloquia.  Mike agreed to announce this at the Annual General Meetings.  Administration of this initiative would need to be worked out between the Secretariat and the organisers of the Ottawa Colloquium.
Action:  Mike, Jini, Kathie

12.  Conflict of interest on corporate sponsorship
(see also items 29.1 and 29.3 below)
Jim described the sensitivity and diverse views on this issue, and the background to the document he had recently circulated to all entities about it, which was intended to stimulate discussion during the Colloquium.  A recent article in the British Medical Journal had highlighted the current debate within the organisation on this issue (Ray Moynihan, ‘Cochrane at crossroads over drug company sponsorship’, BMJ 2003;327:924-926; see  http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/327/7420/924).  The current policy (as stated in the Cochrane Reviewers’ Handbook) is that it is unacceptable for a single funder with a vested interest to sponsor an individual review.  It was agreed to discuss this again at the second Steering Group meeting on 29 October, after entity representatives had discussed it within their entity meetings, so that the Steering Group’s position could be reported at the Annual General Meetings later that day.     

13.    Report from the Chief Executive Officer

       Nick described his first seven months in the position of CEO.  He paid tribute to the Secretariat team for their support of him, the Steering Group, and its sub- and advisory groups, and their responsiveness and helpfulness to members of the organisation.  He described the difficulties he had encountered in considering making an application to the European Union for funds, and reported that the Research Director General of Life Sciences at the EU would be attending part of the Colloquium.  Nick also reported on recent meetings at the US Cochrane Center, with members of the Campbell Collaboration, and with a radio station manager in the USA with an interest in disseminating information about The Cochrane Collaboration:  Nick’s impression was that there was increasing interest in systematic reviews in the USA.  He also reported on the first few months of the publishing contract with John Wiley and Sons.  He circulated a two-page document at the meeting outlining his thoughts on some key issues facing the organisation, which he would also circulate electronically after the Colloquium so that the Steering Group could send him their feedback.
Action:  Nick

14.  Development of a Business Plan
Nick described the fact that a business plan should be a living document that changes according to the purpose for which it is being considered in any one context.  He had therefore produced a draft business plan and suggested that, after redrafting and discussion by the Steering Group, any entity in The Cochrane Collaboration would be able to adapt it for their purposes.  It was noted that any modifications would need to be clearly identified as such and have a clearly stated purpose.  Nick’s draft had been circulated for discussion at the Funders’ Forum the previous day, and Sally raised concerns as to the process for taking matters to that group before they had been presented to and discussed by the Steering Group.  Jim explained that Dan Fox of the Milbank Memorial Fund, who convenes the Funders’ Forum, is keen to involve major policy-makers and funders in supporting the Collaboration.  Nick should canvas entities’ views on this initiative and report back to the next Steering Group meeting at the end of February 2004.  Jini was asked to circulate the draft business plan to the Steering Group by e-mail, requesting feedback in time for the Executive to discuss this in their next teleconference on 4 December 2003.
Action:  Nick, Jini

15.  Strategic future for the Collaboration’s web presence
Nick discussed his proposals for the strategic future of the overall web presence of The Cochrane Collaboration.  He agreed to consider the options for maintaining access to the abstracts on the main web site, and bring these options to the Publishing Policy Group for discussion; in the meantime, the suggestion to remove the abstracts from the web site should be removed, and on this basis the document was approved.  He explained that Dave Booker is working on a template for automatic updating of entity web site content in line with the main web site, which will be available to entities for their use.  Integration of the main site with different entity web sites was an issue for consideration in the longer term.  Janet pointed out that consumer information on the web site is currently under development.  
Action:  Nick

16.  Service Level Agreement for Hilda Bastian’s web site for consumers
Mike declared that he is potentially conflicted as he is a co-editor of the Cochrane Consumer Digest with Hilda Bastian, although he has no financial involvement with the Digest, nor has he been involved in the production of the latest issue.  Janet, Samuel and Silvana are conflicted as members of the Governing Council of the Cochrane Collaboration Consumer Network Incorporated.  Jordi may be conflicted since the Spanish Health Ministry is soon to provide information for consumers in Spanish.  Sally is potentially conflicted as Director of the Australasian Cochrane Centre, which is the reference Centre for the Consumer Network.  Davina is conflicted since she has been invited to be on the board of Hilda’s new Foundation.  Claire is potentially conflicted as a member of the Consumer Network.
The issue of translation arose because of the paper that had been circulated recently by Hilda Bastian on translation issues.  It was agreed that translation is an important issue for the Collaboration, and Centre Directors should continue to discuss this.  It is also an issue for discussion by the Publishing Policy Group, which has not yet been sent Hilda’s paper on translation issues.  Nick was asked to suggest to Hilda that this paper should be redrafted as it currently has the appearance of being a Cochrane document, whereas it is intended to be a document relating to the web site that she is developing.       
Action:  Nick

After much discussion, Mike summarised the position with regard to the conflict surrounding the Cochrane Collaboration Consumer Network Incorporated as an incorporated association.  The Steering Group asked Nick to intervene to dissolve the incorporated association as speedily as possible.  It was agreed that he had permission to seek Australian legal advice to do this, and would provide the Steering Group with a costing for this as soon as possible after the Colloquium.  He agreed to discuss these decisions with the Governing Council and with Hilda during the Colloquium.  It was agreed that, whilst the Service Level Agreement (SLA) route was agreed in principle, there should be no negotiations with Hilda about an SLA until the situation with regard to the Cochrane Collaboration Consumer Network Incorporated had been resolved. 
Action:  Nick

17.  Continuity of the Chair of the Steering Group
Mike reminded everyone that at the next Steering Group meeting at the end of February 2004, members would be deciding on the person or people they wished to take over from himself and Jim as Chair/Co-Chair/Deputy Chair in Ottawa in October 2004.  He asked everyone to consider the possibility of having one person serve for one year and the other for two years, so that there would always be an overlap in future, to provide continuity.
Action:  All Steering Group members

18. Improving methodological support in The Cochrane Collaboration

Sally introduced this item on behalf of herself and Phil Alderson as Co-Convenors of the Quality Advisory Group (QAG).  She explained that the QAG makes a clear differentiation between initiatives related to organisational quality (e.g. resources arising from the Quality Improvement Manager’s report) and methodology issues.  Jon raised the issue of people’s expectations of Methods Groups:  they cannot be expected to run a Help Desk type of service, but are frequently expected and perceived to be doing this.  He said that no members of Methods Groups had managed to do any quality assessment exercises, due to the absence of resources.  He had recently surveyed the statisticians in the Collaboration, and it appeared that only three or four full-time equivalent statisticians are paid specifically to do Collaboration work.     

18.2          The Steering Group endorsed Jon’s request that the following paragraphs (a) to (e) be added to The Cochrane Manual and communicated to all entities:

(a) New Methods Groups may need to focus their efforts on conducting research and producing advisory material before they can be in a position to provide useful one-to-one advice to CRGs, Centres and Fields.  Methods Groups will state in their module their current ability to provide advice.

(b) When putting in funding applications for health research projects it is expected that CRGs, Centres and Fields should consider including budget lines to fund the methodological and statistical support that they require to complete those projects.

(c) CRGs should ensure that their named Methodological or Statistical Consultant is able to commit regular time to the work of the group.

(d) The Steering Group endorsed the model of Methodological and Statistical Consultants being CRG editors, to enable them to play a greater role in ensuring and improving methodological quality of Cochrane reviews.

(e) Everyone involved in CRGs, Methods Groups, Centres and Fields should look for opportunities to get new methodologists involved in the work of the Collaboration, and ensure that they are linked into the relevant Methods Groups.

Action:  Jini, Jon

18.3          The Steering Group agreed in principle that the costs of holding a one-off meeting in mid-2004 of Methods Group, Handbook Advisory Group and Quality Advisory Group Convenors and Co-Convenors should be met from central funds.  Jon was asked to provide a detailed breakdown of estimated costs to the Executive for approval, and to liaise with the Secretariat to implement the decision.
Action:  Jon

18.4          The Steering Group agreed in principle to make available a source of funding to which people can apply for methodological projects that aim to improve the quality of Cochrane reviews, training materials and methodological guidelines.  Jon should bring a detailed breakdown of estimated costs of this initiative to the Executive for approval.
Action:  Jon

19.  Inclusion of information on harms in Cochrane reviews and outcome specific reviews
Jon had circulated two case studies on this issue to the Steering Group by e-mail shortly before this meeting.  In Peter Tugwell’s absence, Jim agreed to ask the Co-ordinating Editors to discuss the pros and cons of outcome-specific reviews at their forthcoming meeting.  In certain circumstances outcome-specific reviews for adverse effects and harms are sensible, and the Handbook Advisory Group should look at providing guidance in this area.  At the 28 October meeting of the Steering Group, Jon reported that he had attended various meetings during the week at which there had been discussion of the need for The Cochrane Library to include a new type of document that pulled together all relevant results from Cochrane reviews that are needed to answer a clinical question.  An example was a document that combined reviews of all drugs in the same class, or all alternative treatments for the same condition, or all outcomes related to a particular use of an intervention.  Nick reported that Wiley had been having discussions along related lines, and he would discuss this with them and inform the Steering Group.  He was asked to organise the first meeting of a working group to look at the grouping of such ‘umbrella’ reviews, to include Jon, Peter, David, Steff, Janet, Andy Oxman and a representative from Wiley.
Action:  Jim, Jon, Peter, David, Steff, Janet, Sally, Nick

20.  Systematic reviews of animal studies
It was broadly agreed in principle that systematic reviews of all forms of research (including pre-clinical evidence) are a good thing, but that the Steering Group felt unable to support the detail of the document on this issue that had been put before them.  Mike agreed to convey this position to Shah Ebrahim, Ian Roberts and Peter Sandercock, the Co-ordinating Editors who had asked for the support of the Steering Group.
Action:  Mike

21.  Proposal for MeerKat support and development
Sally and Mike declared a conflict of interest on this issue.   Davina explained that most Collaborative Review Groups (CRGs) are not using the MeerKat software, but that those who are doing so have found it extremely helpful.  The Schizophrenia Group had generously volunteered to provide advice and support to CRGs wishing to convert their registers into MeerKat.  Monica clarified that the first version of the IMS would not include a study-based trials register.  A few CRGs submit their trials registers to CENTRAL via MeerKat.  This is due to be discussed at the RGCs’/TSCs’ meeting and their feedback should be brought back for further discussion by the Steering Group at its second meeting on 29 October.  Nick noted that input should also be sought from the CENTRAL team to ensure future compatibility.
Action:  Davina

22.  Relationship with The Joanna Briggs Institute
It was agreed that everyone working on systematic reviews in the Joanna Briggs Institute in Adelaide, South Australia, should be encouraged to liaise with the relevant Cochrane Collaborative Review Group(s), but that the Steering Group was not in a position to adopt the other requests in the letter from the Joanna Briggs Institute.  Sally agreed to liaise with Mike in preparing an encouraging reply to Alan Pearson, the Executive Director of the Joanna Briggs Institute.
Action:  Sally, Mike


23.  Report from the working group on Cochrane reviews of diagnostic test accuracy
Monica pointed out that she and Rasmus Moustgaard had provided feedback on

the software aspects of the report.  Jon confirmed that their feedback, together with that from others obtained at this meeting, would be incorporated in an update of the documents.  He reported that several meetings of the working group on Cochrane reviews of diagnostic test accuracy had taken place during the Barcelona Colloquium, and had been very productive.  The top priorities of the group are to produce a Cochrane Reviewers’ Diagnostic Reviews Handbook by the end of 2004, and to produce a software specification so that the RevMan development team would be able to include support for reviews of diagnostic tests in the next mandatory release of RevMan (version 5) by mid 2004.  The German Cochrane Centre had agreed to fund a workshop in April 2004 to help this working group to meet.  Jon had attended the recent meeting of the Funders’ Forum and recognised that obtaining funding for this initiative needed to be well planned.  One issue was how to fit in with existing Collaboration structures (i.e. on the various advisory groups to the Steering Group).  Another issue was whether this group should register formally as a Field.  Jon suggested that members of several entities should become involved as soon as possible to work out what would and would not work, and he agreed to take steps to identify such people.  Davina congratulated Jon on doing a fantastic job of leading this working group, and the rest of the Steering Group echoed this view.

Action:  Jon


24.  Sub- and Advisory Groups to the Steering Group
Mike said that he would be writing to the Convenors of the sub- and advisory groups to thank them for their hard work in the past six months.  He said that Deborah Pentesco-Gilbert, the recently appointed Managing Editor at Wiley, was the person to approach to ascertain who should represent Wiley on a specific advisory group. 
Action:  Mike

24.1          Finding dates for sub-group teleconferences:  It was agreed that CCSG sub-group members should in future be canvassed a year in advance for their availability to participate in sub-group teleconferences, since it had become increasingly difficult to find dates to suit the majority.  The suitability of the next two meeting dates should be reviewed at the end of each meeting in case unforeseen circumstances had arisen to prevent anyone from participating.
Action:  Claire

24.2          Future role of the Publishing Policy Group (PPG):  Nick reported that he had included comments from the existing members of the PPG in his discussion document on the future role of this sub-group of the Steering Group.  Monica asked for clarification about which group should be responsible for considering requests for access to the Parent Database, both for research and administrative purposes.  Although until now it had been the responsibility of the PPG, it was agreed that it was more appropriate for the Executive to decide on such requests in future.  The document should reflect the fact that the membership of the PPG is approved by the Co-Chairs of the Steering Group and the PPG Convenor (if this is someone other than one of the Co-Chairs).  Mike agreed to advise Dave Booker and Chris Williams that they are no longer on the PPG since they represent operational matters, and Nick was asked to discuss with Silvana and Janet which of them would join the PPG (see also item 6 above).  The document was approved after Nick had made these changes, and should be added to the ‘Structure, remit and membership of groups accountable to the Steering Group’ on the web site.
Action:  Nick, Mike, Claire

24.3          Monitoring and Registration Group (MRG):  Samuel Ochieng was not present for this discussion and Kathie therefore spoke to the MRG report on his behalf.  She advised that Ruth Jepson had recently resigned from the MRG and that she anticipated Mark Lodge’s resignation also, leaving the Group with only five members:  four additional members were therefore needed.  Kathie would discuss additional members with the MRG and propose their names to the Steering Group as soon as possible. 
Action:  Kathie

It was agreed that the likely convenors of probable entities should be added to the relevant e-mail lists to facilitate communication before their formal registration.  Kathie reported that
the MRG had discussed and accepted the responsibility for undertaking the preliminary review of the registration of new entities once the Steering Group has been informed of the application.  Until now, the Steering Group has been the first to review the applications and then they were forwarded to the MRG.

       Action:  Claire

The Steering Group approved the registration flow chart and process for new entities, and the updating and revision work done on the entity core functions, which would be presented to the Executive for final approval.  There was recognition that the monitoring process is mandatory for all entities, and that the new Information Management System will help to facilitate this process.  Monica asked Claire to send her the entity monitoring forms so that the information to be collected could, where possible, be worked into the IMS. 

Kathie reported that the MRG believes t
hat all Centres should have advisory boards, and that it would like to recommend that the Chair of the Steering Group contacts those Centres who do not have an advisory board explaining why these boards are essential.  Since the Centre Directors had decided at their Barcelona meeting to develop a set of guidelines for Centre advisory boards, it was agreed to wait and review the document being prepared by them.

       Action:  Kathie

In response to the suggestion that an external evaluation of the MRG should take place, Nick said that he would be looking at the remit and membership of the Monitoring and Registration Group next, rather than this waiting to be considered as part of the evaluation of the Steering Group in 2005.
Action:  Nick

24.4          Monitoring the Steering Group:  Peter said he would be providing a document on this for the next Steering Group meeting at the end of February 2004.
Action:  Peter

24.5          Cochrane CENTRAL Advisory Group (CCAG):  Davina reported on the recent meeting of the CCAG, which a Wiley representative had attended.  There was no disagreement about the new members who had been proposed to join this Group.  Discussion about the future of CENTRAL is an agenda item for discussion at the next Steering Group meeting at the end of February 2004.  Davina reported that the new name for this Group had not been discussed at the recent CCAG meeting.
Action:  Jini

24.6          Cochrane Library Users’ Group (CLUG):  Mike and Nick agreed to look into the process for deciding the date of the ‘retirement’ of the Update Software-Cochrane Library interface, and clarify this to Julie Glanville, the Convenor of the CLUG.  The Steering Group would decide when the Wiley interface was sufficiently developed to replace the Update Software interface.  It was noted that Julie Glanville had expressed her wish to step down as Convenor; Mike agreed to discuss this with her.
Action:  Mike, Nick

24.7          Colloquium Policy Advisory Group (CPAG):  Sally was asked to confirm to the CPAG the Steering Group’s requirement for there to be two of its members on the local organising committee of each Colloquium to facilitate communication, even though perhaps necessarily at long distance.
Sally reported that the document ‘Standard Operating Procedures for Cochrane Colloquia’ was now available to future Colloquium hosts, and would be put onto the Collaboration web site. 
Action:  Sally, Jini

24.8          Criticism Management Advisory Group (CMAG):  Mike reported that someone had volunteered to take over from Chris Cates as Convenor of the CMAG, and that someone else had also expressed interest in becoming Co-Convenor, but that he did not feel it was appropriate to name them now.  He would send further details to the Steering Group as soon as possible (see also item 3.18.7 under ‘Matters arising’ above).
Action:  Mike


24.9          Handbook Advisory Group (HAG):  The Steering Group approved explorations of the possibility of making a printed version of the Cochrane Reviewers’ Handbook available for sale, which would be updated every two years.  This would enable members of Methods Groups to achieve academic recognition for contributing to this product.  The current and updated versions would continue to be available free of charge via the Collaboration web site.  Sally was asked to prepare a written proposal, so that this could be discussed at the next Steering Group meeting at the end of February 2004. 
Action:  Sally, Jini

Sally thanked Jon, Julian Higgins and Doug Altman for the enormous amount of work they had done in revising Section 8 of the Handbook, and said that this revised section would be available to coincide with the publication of Issue 1, 2004 of The Cochrane Library.  The Steering Group would be looking to the HAG to advise on the format of consumer synopses, and it would be the Steering Group’s responsibility to approve any changes to this format that the HAG suggests.  Mark volunteered to help in updating this part of the Handbook.
Action:  Sally, Mark

Kathie had said earlier in the meeting that the MRG had agreed it would be inappropriate for them to be responsible for identifying how much work is going on in entities in the area of ‘open learning’ (or ‘off campus distributed learning’ or ‘distance learning’) (see also item under ‘Matters arising’ above).  Management of the open learning material had now been merged with that of the Handbook. 

The request for a budget of £1,000 for the current financial year (April 2003 to March 2004) was approved.  
Action:  Sally, Jini

24.10        Information Management System Group (IMSG):  

24.10.1     Membership of the IMSG: 
Monica reported that Wiley had requested to have another voting member of their staff on the IMSG; however, Mike pointed out that this would be contrary to the terms of the existing contract between Wiley and The Cochrane Collaboration.  Nick agreed to let Wiley know that they should bring a written proposal to the Steering Group.  The Steering Group agreed to Mike taking over from Monica as Convenor of the IMSG because of her potential conflict of interest as Director of the IMS.  Monica would continue to be a member of the IMSG in her capacity as Director of the IMS, and the remit and membership list of the IMSG should be updated accordingly. 
Action:  Nick, Monica, Claire

24.10.2     Contact details of co-reviewers:  It was agreed that in addition to the contact details of members of editorial bases, editors and contact reviewers (see also item 9.1 above), those of co-reviewers should also be maintained in the Contact Database.
Action:  Monica

24.11        Quality Advisory Group (QAG):  Sally reported that the QAG had decided, with Executive approval, that the information collected from entities in 2002 by the Quality Improvement Manager, Nancy Owens, should be put onto the Collaboration web site, and entities should be advised of this, as soon as possible.  As a second stage, some quality assurance checks would be made, and examples of best practice would be identified (see also item 3.9.2 above).  Sally would update the Steering Group at its next meeting at the end of February 2004 on the activities of the QAG in this regard.  Sally and Nick were asked to discuss the remit and membership of the QAG.
Action:  Sally, Nick

24.12        The Ombudsmen:  Gill Gyte (on behalf of herself and Peter Langhorne as Ombudsmen) had given a presentation during the opening plenary session of the Colloquium.  Gill and Peter had advised that they had nothing specific to report to the Steering Group in relation to their role as Ombudsmen during the past six months, in addition to the information they had included in their six-monthly report.

24.13        The Publication Arbiter:  David had also made a presentation during the opening plenary session of the Colloquium, and reported that he had nothing he wished to raise with the Steering Group in relation to his role as Publication Arbiter during the past six months.  He was encouraged to enlist the support of other members of the Steering Group whenever necessary.

24.14        The Funders’ Forum:  Jim reported on the discussions that had taken place during the meeting of the Funders’ Forum on 24 October 2003.  It was agreed that the selection of people invited to attend these meetings should be broadened, and Sally reported that the Centre Directors had agreed to provide the names of people whom they wished to be invited to future such meetings.  She agreed to work with Mike on the invitation list, and to ask the Chair of the Funders’ Forum, Dan Fox, for a clear written description of its purpose that could be circulated to all entities and put on the Collaboration web site.  Dan Fox should also be asked to schedule meetings of the Funders’ Forum after the first Steering Group meeting at future Colloquia, rather than before it.
Action:  Sally, Mike

24.15        Cochrane-Campbell liaison:  Mike introduced Harris Cooper who had agreed to attend the second Cochrane Collaboration Steering Group meeting on behalf of The Campbell Collaboration.  Harris explained that he is a member of the Campbell Collaboration Steering Group and also co-ordinator of the Campbell Methods Groups.  He said that he welcomed the opportunity to attend this meeting, and would like there to be a reciprocal arrangement for a member or ex-member of the Cochrane Collaboration Steering Group to attend Campbell Collaboration Steering Group meetings in future, and for this preferably to be the same individual for a couple of years at a time.  He explained that The Campbell Collaboration meets twice a year, and the next meeting will be in February 2004 in Washington DC, USA.  The intention is for the February meetings to take place within the USA, and for the October meetings to take place outside it.  Jim and Mike agreed to identify someone by the end of 2003 with both the experience and the time (preferably a past or current member of the Steering Group) to attend the February 2004 meeting of The Campbell Collaboration, if Lisa Bero no longer wishes to continue in this role or is unable to commit to providing continuity of attendance at Campbell Collaboration Steering Group meetings for the next two years.
Action:  Jim, Mike   

24.16        Trading Company Directors’ report:  Monica reported that, in the absence of anyone coming forward from within the Collaboration as a potential Director to replace Malcolm Newdick who had resigned, the Trading Company Directors had approached an ex-member of the Steering Group to become a Director, and would keep the Steering Group informed if this person accepted the position.  Monica also drew attention to the fact that the Trading Company had originally been established to recoup the tax on the royalties from sales of The Cochrane Library, and that a trading company might no longer be necessary if proposed changes to UK charity law come into force.  Nick was asked to discuss this situation with both the Collaboration’s solicitors and its accountants, whose initial advice on this matter had differed, then to confer with the Trading Company Directors, and to bring a recommendation to the next Steering Group meeting at the end of February 2004 if the issue had not been resolved by then. 
Action:  Monica, Nick

24.17        Developing country initiative:  Sally reported that she had attended the recent meeting of the working group of this initiative on David Henderson-Smart’s behalf.  She reported on the breadth of opinion in the working group as to whether or not a network or an advisory group to the Steering Group should be established in order to make progress on this initiative.  Sally was asked to request Xavier Bonfill, who is responsible for taking the lead, to provide a written proposal to the Steering Group for discussion at their next meeting at the end of February 2004, and to let him know that Peter and Janet have volunteered to participate in this initiative (see also item 8.2 above).
Action:  Sally

25. Reports from entity representatives:

      25.1          Collaborative Review Groups:

25.1.1       MeerKat: 
Jim took over chairing this item because Mike declared a conflict of interest due to the fact that the UKCC is responsible for developing the MeerKat software.  Davina reported that at the meeting of Review Group Co-ordinators and Trials Search Co-ordinators on 26 October 2003, she had discovered that some CRGs are not currently using MeerKat to manage their specialised registers only because they had understood that it would not be supported in the longer term.  It was agreed that Davina should ask the CCAG to provide a written proposal to the Steering Group on whether or not to fund a pilot to assess whether or not the MeerKat software could be considered to become part of the new Information Management System.  It was agreed to defer the funding request for core resources for MeerKat until the next meeting of the Steering Group at the end of February 2004.  Mike will inform Sally Hopewell, who had submitted the request. 
Action:  Davina, Mike
25.1.2       Updating of reviews: 
Peter reported that the Co-ordinating Editors had discussed at length the many problems surrounding the updating of reviews in their meeting on 28 October 2003.  Before the Colloquium, Paul Garner had asked that reviews in areas where it was extremely unlikely that new trials would be done should remain in The Cochrane Library as they provide the most current available evidence.  Peter agreed to provide a document on the problems of, and possible solutions for, updating reviews for the Steering Group to discuss at their meeting in Ottawa in October 2004.  He said that the representatives from Wiley who had attended this meeting had dealt very clearly with the main concerns on several issues. 
Action:  Peter

25.2          Methods Groups:  At the meeting on 30 October, Jon reported that there were no important issues for the Steering Group to discuss arising from the meeting of the Methods Group Convenors earlier that day.  


       25.3          Fields/Networks:  Vittorio reported that he had agreed during the recent meeting of Fields to represent Fields at the Steering Group meeting at the end of February 2004.  He said that two members of Fields had expressed their willingness to share this role with effect from then.  Kathie said that a Field representative was urgently needed on the Monitoring and Registration Group, and Vittorio agreed to discuss this with the two interested Field members.  Since attendance at meetings seemed to have been a major stumbling block to people wishing to represent Fields in the 2003 Steering Group elections, it was suggested that if two people were about to share the role of Field representative, one might be willing to represent Fields at the Steering Group meetings and the other to represent Fields at the MRG meetings and participate in the work of that sub-group of the Steering Group.

Action:  Vittorio

25.4          Centres: 
Gerd drew attention to the document that had resulted from discussion and agreement by the Centre Directors as to a set of guiding principles for Centre Directors and staff.  He explained that all other entities than Centres have someone whom they can approach officially if they find themselves in a serious situation of conflict within The Cochrane Collaboration, and it was agreed that the Ombudsmen should perform this role for members of Centres in future.  Gerd should amend the ‘Guiding principles’ document to this effect, and forward it to Jini for inclusion in the Cochrane Manual. 
Action:  Gerd, Jini

Sally said that she would shortly be circulating a template to all concerned, so that information about the special functions of Cochrane Centres could be included in their modules in The Cochrane Library in future. 
Action:  Sally

Kathie advised that the Centre Directors had agreed to establish four working groups to bring specific issues to the next Centre Directors’ meeting at the end of February 2004. 
The four strategic issues that the Centre Directors identified as priorities to work on are:  (1) Identifying strategies to establish stable funding for Centre activities; (2) Developing a database of ‘good stories’ about the value and positive impact of The Cochrane Collaboration; (3) Raising the awareness of The Cochrane Library and how to use it; and (4) Identifying and developing responses to the needs of developing countries.

It was agreed that concerns about the quality of individual Cochrane reviews should continue to be addressed by the ‘Comments and Criticisms’ system.  Concerns about the quality of more than one review by a CRG should be referred to the Director of the reference Cochrane Centre, and concerns about the quality of the systems and processes of reviews across more than one CRG should be referred to the Quality Advisory Group. 

Gerd reported that a productive meeting had been held during the Colloquium to discuss establishing a French language network, and said that he would continue to be involved in further discussions and would report back to the Steering Group on progress made.
Action:  Gerd

25.5          The Consumer Network

Janet said that she was continuing to work towards closing down the Cochrane Collaboration Consumer Network Incorporated as soon as possible, and that this had been agreed by the recent Annual General Meeting of this organisation.  Janet reported that members of the Consumer Network had agreed to apply to the Monitoring and Registration Group to register it formally with the Collaboration as a Field.  Vittorio undertook to facilitate the discussion by the MRG and to ensure that the Consumer Network is not required to establish and maintain a specialised register (other Fields are now required to do so as one of their core functions) because of the existence of the Consumers and Communication Collaborative Review Group.  Janet would be reporting on the long-term plans of the Consumer Network to the Centre Directors and the Steering Group at their meetings at the end of February 2004.           
Action:  Janet, Vittorio

25.5.2:      Nick reported that he had informed Hilda Bastian that there could be no negotiation about a Service Level Agreement (SLA) until the current situation in relation to the Cochrane Collaboration Consumer Network Incorporated had been resolved.  He read out a letter from Hilda to the Steering Group requesting that, pending negotiation of an SLA for 2004, she be allowed to continue to provide a continuous service to Collaborative Review Groups and to the public on consumer synopses.  Nick was asked to convey to Hilda in writing that she has permission from the Steering Group to continue providing her service on consumer synopses for Issue 4, 2003, with no commitment beyond that.  His letter should state that the Steering Group makes no commitment to extending an interim arrangement.  The intention is to negotiate an SLA only once the current situation has been resolved. 

Action:  Nick, Jim

26.  The next two Steering Group meetings:

26.1          Italy:  29 February, 1 and 2 March 2004:  Alessandro Liberati, Director of the Italian Cochrane Centre, attended the Steering Group meeting for this item only, and proposed that the location of the meetings of the Centre Directors and the Steering Group be in Bergamo, which is as close to Malpensa Airport as the centre of Milan, and where hotels are much less expensive than in Milan.  There were no objections to this change of location.  Laura Coe of the Italian Cochrane Centre will be co-ordinating the arrangements for these meetings with Jini’s help, and should suggest several options for how to spend the day between the Centre Directors’ and Steering Group meetings. 
Action:  Jini

26.2          Ottawa:  1 and 4 October 2004: 
It was agreed that the Steering Group should meet for a full day (i.e. from 9.00 a.m. to 6 p.m.) on the day before the Ottawa Colloquium starts (i.e. Friday 1 October 2004), and for another half-day after the Annual General Meetings. 

       Action:  Kathie, Jini

Post hoc note:
  The first Steering Group meeting has been scheduled to take place on Friday 1 October from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the second on Monday 4 October from 10.30 a.m. to 2.00 p.m.  The Annual General Meetings will take place on
Sunday 3 October from 3.30 p.m. to 5.30 p.m.

27.  The next two Cochrane Colloquia

27.1          Ottawa 2004: 
Kathie reported that arrangements for the XII Cochrane Colloquium were going according to plan, and that she had no issues she wished to raise with the Steering Group. 

         Melbourne 2005:  Sally reported that arrangements for the XIII Cochrane Colloquium were in hand, and had distributed postcards advertising the event.  The Steering Group agreed to decide at their next meeting at the end of February 2004 whether to have three half-day meetings during the Melbourne Colloquium, or to continue the current practice of meeting for one full and one half day.
Action:  Sally, Jini

28.  Spreadsheet of members’ outstanding action items
Mike asked Steering Group members to continue to let Kim know when their Action items have been done.  Kim and Jini had done a cleaning-up exercise of the spreadsheet before including it with the Steering Group agenda for Barcelona, but members should be responsible for advising Kim themselves when their action items have been completed and need to be removed from the spreadsheet.
Action:  All Steering Group members

29.  Any other business:

29.1          Sponsorship and funding by the pharmaceutical industry
(This item reports the discussion that took place during the meeting on 29 October 2003.  See also items 12 above and 29.3 below.)

Sally reported that the Centre Directors had agreed that this was such an important issue that The Cochrane Collaboration should not be rushed into any decision to change the current policy.  Janet reported that there were opposing views in the Consumer Network, but that there was a desire for wider consultation.  Jim reported on the diversity of opinion expressed by the Co-ordinating Editors.  Jon reported that that the Methods Group Convenors had not yet met to discuss this issue.  It was agreed that the current policy that no review should receive funding from a single source should not be changed at this time:  this should be reconfirmed at the Annual General Meetings.  A timeline for discussion should be agreed and publicised.  As Director of the UK Cochrane Centre, Mike expressed a conflict of interest over two Cochrane reviews about which concerns had been expressed.  In its role as reference Cochrane Centre, the UKCC had advised that these reviews did not breach the current policy. 

It was agreed to hold an extra meeting of the Steering Group on 30 October from 1 p.m. to decide on the process for taking forward discussions and decisions on this issue, and on what should be done about Cochrane reviews that breach the current policy (see also item 29.3 below), following the opportunity to hear opinions at the Annual General Meetings.  The members of the Collaboration should be told that, although discussions on this topic had been going on since last year, it had been important to wait for the Colloquium to allow for face-to-face discussion.  It was agreed that, following the consultation process, it would be up to the Co-Chairs and the Publication Arbiter to discuss reviews that appear to be in breach of Collaboration policy. 
Action:  Jim, Mike

29.2          Field representation on the Steering Group:  Kathie reported in Vittorio’s absence from this part of the meeting that Field members had met during the Colloquium and discussed the issue of the current lack of Field representation on the Steering Group (see also item 8.1 above).  Liz Waters and Jodie Doyle had agreed to put themselves forward in the next election to occupy one position on the Steering Group, and Vittorio had agreed to attend the Steering Group meeting at the end of February 2004 so that Fields have a voice at that meeting.  It was agreed that Jodie Doyle should be asked to join the Monitoring and Registration Group immediately as an ex officio member.  No decision was made as to whether an ex officio member of the MRG could be its Convenor or Co-Convenor:  this should be discussed by e-mail after the Colloquium.
Action:  Kathie




29.3          Commercial sponsorship and The Cochrane Collaboration
(This item reports the discussion that took place during the meeting on 30 October 2003.  See also items 12 and 29.1 above)

All Steering Group members were present at this specially arranged extra meeting held on 30 October from 1.00 to 2.30 p.m., with the exception of Vittorio Demicheli and Samuel Ochieng (who had left the Steering Group the previous day), Silvana Simi and Peter Tugwell.  Jon Deeks was present from 1.00 to 1.30 p.m., and reported that the Methods Group Convenors had now met and discussed this issue, and expressed the same view as the other entities.  Monica Kjeldstrøm was present from 1.00 to 2.10 p.m., and Nick Royle from 2.00 to 2.15 p.m.  Jini Hetherington took the minutes, and Claire Allen and Kim Pollard of the Secretariat were also present for this session, chaired by Mike Clarke.


The wishes expressed at the Annual General Meeting of The Cochrane Collaboration on 29 October 2003, that this matter should not be rushed and that wide consultation was needed, were noted.


It was agreed that firstly an e-mail should be sent to the contact people of all Cochrane entities during the week beginning 3 November 2003.  This e-mail ('Document 1') should describe the process of consultation to be followed, highlight the complexity of the issue, and explain that a fuller document is in preparation on which members of The Cochrane Collaboration will be asked to comment.  The contact people of all entities will be asked to forward the e-mail to the members of their entity.

Action:  Jim, Mike, Jini                   


There was much discussion of the scope of 'commercial' conflicts of interest.  Sally declared a conflict of interest in contributing to this item as, should the current scope be extended, there may be a conflict of interest between her conducting Cochrane reviews of physiotherapy and her ownership of a physiotherapy practice.  Nick also declared a conflict of interest in relation to what decisions may be taken in the future about which sources of funding he should, or should not, seek as CEO.  It was agreed that all Steering Group members should declare their potential conflicts of interest in the module of The Cochrane Collaboration that is published in The Cochrane Library and may be available soon on the Internet.  The appropriate format and content of such declarations is still to be determined.      

Action:  Jim, Mike, Jini 


A second document is to be prepared for wide consultation within The Cochrane Collaboration.  This would relate to the funding of reviews, the funding of CRGs, the funding of other entities, and the funding of other sorts of activities in The Cochrane Collaboration.  This document would draw on input from Lisa Bero and others, and contain a list of many ways in which funding by commercial interests, including the pharmaceutical industry and producers and sellers of drugs and medical devices, might be offered or sought for activities within The Cochrane Collaboration.  Davina, Mark and Steff agreed to work with Jim and Mike on the wording of this 'Document 2'.  It should be sent to all entities by the second week of December 2003 and put on The Cochrane Collaboration web site.  Kathie would arrange for an announcement to be made in Cochrane News pointing to the web site.  Jini would arrange for a special e-mail address to be created, to which people should send their comments.  Comments from members of the Collaboration would be requested by the end of January 2004, in order for members of the Steering Group to review the feedback and for the Executive to discuss it in preparation for discussion at the next Steering Group meeting at the end of February 2004.       

Action:  Jim, Mike, Davina, Mark, Steff, Kathie, Jini


A third document should bring together all the feedback from entities on this issue into a draft policy document (‘Document 3’), for consideration by the Steering Group at their next meeting at the end of February 2004.  It was recognised that the amount of work involved in this would depend on the quantity and complexity of the feedback; decisions about who would help in the preparation of this document were deferred until the feedback period is underway.

Action:  Jim, Mike, Jini 


A fourth document should be prepared during the Steering Group meeting at the end of February 2004.  This would contain the Steering Group's policy statement on commercial sponsorship.  It should include a date by which this policy would be reviewed.  This document (‘Document 4’) should then be disseminated to all Cochrane entities via the e-mail discussion lists, CCInfo and Cochrane News, and added to The Cochrane Manual. 

Action:  Jim, Mike, Kathie, Jini


30.  Thanks to the host and the Secretariat
Mike expressed the thanks of the Steering Group to the organizers of the Barcelona Colloquium, and especially to all the staff of the Iberoamerican Cochrane Centre, for a most enjoyable and stimulating Colloquium.  The hospitality of the Spanish hosts, and their thoughtful arrangements of all aspects of the conference, was greatly appreciated.  Mike also thanked the staff of the Secretariat for their efficient organisation of the agenda and related materials.  Gerd expressed thanks to the Co-Chairs on behalf of all members of the Steering Group.