Minutes of meeting of the

Cochrane Collaboration Steering Group,
Lyon, France, 8 and 13 October 2001

[These minutes were approved by the Steering Group Executive on 20 November 2001]



Advisory Group, CENTRAL/CCTR


Advisory Group, Cochrane Library Users’


Advisory Group, Colloquium Policy


Advisory Group, Criticism Management


Advisory Group, Handbook


Advisory Group, Information Management System


Advisory Group, Quality


Advisory Groups, conflict of interest in convenorship of

2.18, 2.19

Advisory Groups, membership of sub- and


Campbell Collaboration, The


CENTRAL, funding of


Centres, establishing branches/networks of


Centres, feedback from meeting of staff of


Chair, choosing a, of the Steering Group


Chair, travel by


Children, statement of policy on inclusion of information on, in reviews


Clinical Evidence (BMJ Publishing Group), relationship with


Cochrane Library, complementary copies of The


Cochrane Library, distributors of The


Cochrane Library, next generation of The


Collaborative Review Groups, feedback from Co-ordinating Editors’ meeting


Collaborative Review Groups, feedback from RGCs’/TSCs’ meeting


Collaborative Review Groups, relationship between reviewers and editors


Collaborative Review Groups, workload and calendar of events for


Colloquium host, thanks to the


Colloquium in 2005, canvassing for a host for


Colloquium funding


Comments and Criticisms System

Conflict of interest in commercial sponsorship

Conflicts of interest


Constitution (Articles of Association) of the Collaboration, revisions to


Consumer Network, feedback from meeting of


Contingency and discretionary fund expenditure


Co-ordinating Editors, feedback from meeting of


Developing countries, involvement in the Cochrane Collaboration by


Discretionary and contingency fund expenditure


Entity meetings, feedback from, during the Colloquium


Fields, feedback from meeting of


Finance, CENTRAL funding


Finance, copy editing funding


Finance, current financial situation


Finance, discretionary and contingency fund expenditure


Finance, funding priorities


Finance, travel by Chair


Funders’ Forum, feedback from meeting of, 19.2.8

Funders, raising the profile of the Cochrane Collaboration and systematic reviews with


History/archive of the Cochrane Collaboration


International organisations, forming strategic alliances with


Media guidance, report on


Methods Groups, feedback from meeting of


Monitoring and Registration Group, feedback from meeting of


Monitoring and Registration Group, future of the monitoring process


Monitoring and Registration Group, losing sight of core functions by entities


Monitoring and Registration Group, report and five-year budget plan


Ombudsmen, report from the Cochrane Collaboration


Publishing arrangement, current


Publishing arrangement, request for proposals for the future

17.1, 17.3

Quality Improvement Manager

Reviewers, relationship between Cochrane, and their editors


Reviews, cost of producing individual


Reviews, guidelines for handling [those of historical interest]

Reviews, impact factor of


Reviews, inclusion of non-randomised studies in

Reviews, indexing in ISI of


Reviews, paying for statistical help


Reviews, statement on policy of inclusion of information on children in reviews


RGCs’/TSCs’, feedback from meeting of


Secretariat staff, thanks to the


Steering Group priorities


Steering Group, choosing a Chair of


Steering Group, comments from outgoing members


Steering Group, conflict of interest

2.18, 2.19

Steering Group, meeting in April 2002, Chengdu


Steering Group, meeting in February/March 2003


Steering Group, update on monitoring of


Steering Group, preparation for meetings


Steering Group, spreadsheet of members’ outstanding action items


Stein, Michael

14, 29.2

Synopses, definitions of intellectual property rights of consumer


Translations of Cochrane material


Update Software


U.S.A. issues


Minutes of meeting of the

Cochrane Collaboration Steering Group,

Lyon, France,

8 and 13 October 2001

[These minutes were approved by the Steering Group Executive on 20 November 2001]

Present: Claire Allen, Gerd Antes, Hilda Bastian, Kathie Clark, Mike Clarke, Vittorio Demicheli, Davina Ghersi, David Henderson-Smart, Jini Hetherington (minutes), Ruth Jepson, Peter Langhorne (Chair), Youping Li, Jim Neilson, Samuel Ochieng, Nancy Owens, Silvana Simi, Elena Telaro, David Wilkinson (8 October only), and Chris Williams (8 October only).

  1. Welcomes, apologies for absence, introductions and approval of the agenda
    Peter Langhorne welcomed everyone to the meeting, and introduced the three incoming new members of the Steering Group: Kathie Clark (representing Centres), David Henderson-Smart (representing CRGs), and Silvana Simi (representing the Consumer Network); the re-election of Gerd Antes (representing Centres) and Mike Clarke (representing Methods Groups) was noted. He also introduced Nancy Owens who had joined the Secretariat in the capacity of Quality Improvement Manager, for one year from September 2001. It was noted that the minutes of the previous Steering Group meeting in São Paulo in February 2001 had been previously approved by e-mail.
  2. Matters arising, not on this agenda

    18. and 19. - Conflicts of interest: Hilda described her plans to prepare an expanded document for the next Steering Group meeting in Chengdu in April 2002. She proposed including several different types of conflict of interest in the same document (membership of the Steering Group and its sub- and advisory groups; sponsorship of reviews; and conflict of interest of editors and referees). Jim will pass on to her any feedback he receives from the Co-ordinating Editors’ meeting on conflict of interest in sponsorship. When finalised, this document will be included in The Cochrane Manual and the Cochrane Reviewers’ Handbook. Mike pointed out that conflict of interest in the area of the management and process of the Steering Group is separate from the other issues, but can eventually be included in the same document. Nancy agreed to collect information from entities on how they handle differing sorts of conflict of interest.
    Action: Hilda, Jim, Nancy

    6.1. Steering Group expenses: Travel by Chair to other meetings: Peter had agreed at the previous Steering Group meeting in São Paulo in February 2001 to provide an estimate of his travel expenses for meetings other than the two face-to-face Steering Group meetings a year. He estimated the cost of such additional travel to be up to £3,500 per annum. This was agreed to be acceptable.

    13. Relationship between Clinical Evidence and the Collaboration
    : Peter reported that discussions are still ongoing with the BMJ Publishing Group (BMJPG) who have indicated that they would like to commit some funds by the end of the year, and would like a ‘shopping list’ of items from the Collaboration, for a total of between £30,000 and £50,000. He, Mike, Jim, Clive Adams, Bernd Richter and George Rutherford (and Hilda Bastian for issues relating to consumers) will form a working group to liaise with the BMJPG. They will consult within the Collaboration to compile the ’shopping list’, in advance of a telephone conference with the BMJPG on 19 November 2001.
    Action: Peter, Mike, Jim

    15. Cost of producing individual reviews
    : Chris described the activities of the small working party that had been looking at this, comprising Mike Clarke, Davina Ghersi, Ruth Jepson, Miranda Mugford (Health Economics Methods Group) and himself. This group recommends undertaking a small survey of CRGs to obtain their input so as to develop a checklist of likely expenses which could be used when seeking funds for a review. Approximate costings could be put against the items in the checklist to generate an approximate average for a Cochrane review. In addition, the person-hours involved in preparing a review should be estimated. This would include the time taken for the editorial processes at a CRG’s editorial base and the refereeing. Chris agreed to take the lead on this, and produce a paper for the next Steering Group meeting in Chengdu in April 2002. He will collaborate with Nancy who will be able to gather relevant information when visiting the entities.
    Action: Chris, Nancy

    21. Report on media guidance
    : Mike invited written feedback from Steering Group members on the latest draft of his document giving guidance on dealing with the media. He agreed to recirculate it to them as a reminder, so that he can finalise it for tabling at the next Steering Group meeting in Chengdu in April 2002.
    Action: Mike

    25. Raising the profile of the Cochrane Collaboration and systematic reviews with research funders: Peter reported that he was still working on developing an appropriate strategy with Davina and Elena.
    Action: Peter, Davina, Elena

    30. Policy regarding complimentary copies of The Cochrane Library
    : Mike explained that it is not easy to automate the process for notifying Collaborative Review Groups of which contact authors will cease to receive complimentary copies, but that he would be willing to try to arrange this. He noted that he had sent a list of the reviewers who would lose their entitlement from Issue 2, 2002 unless they updated their review, to each Review Group Coordinator within the last two weeks. Jim and Davina were asked to seek advice from their constituencies on how much advance notice would be most helpful to Collaborative Review Groups.
    Action: Jim, Davina
  3. Update on monitoring the Cochrane Collaboration Steering Group
    Peter reported that he had not yet received a response to his letter to Peter Tugwell after the latter had presented the review panel’s findings at the previous Steering Group meeting in São Paulo in February 2001. It was reiterated that it had been difficult to disentangle a review of the Steering Group, from one of the work of the Collaboration as a whole. Commenting on Peter Langhorne’s letter to Peter Tugwell, Hilda pointed out that there are other problems with Cochrane Reviews than simply ones of language, and Chris noted that it is important to point out in reviews the information that is missing from trial reports. Nancy agreed to bear this in mind when visiting entities and collating information on the problems they face in producing reviews, and the key things that make the reviews unfriendly to users.
    Peter Langhorne agreed to prompt Peter Tugwell for a response to his letter and to ask for his advice on repeating the monitoring exercise. Jini will arrange for the new members on the Steering Group to receive a copy of the review panel’s findings. The activity of the Steering Group in response to the monitoring should be a standing item on future Steering Group agendas.
    Action: Peter, Nancy, Jini, Claire
  4. Report from the Treasurer:

    4.1 Tables of Discretionary and Contingency Fund expenditure: Mike explained the expenditure from these two funds in the current financial year.

    4.2 Spreadsheet of current financial situation: Mike explained that the ratio of income to expenditure is increasing, and that the accumulating credit is kept in a high-interest deposit account.
  5. Funding priorities within the Cochrane Collaboration
    Peter explained the background to the document on funding priorities. Mike reported that the Nordic Cochrane Centre wished to inform the Steering Group that it is no longer able to fund the work on the Information Management System to the extent that had been anticipated a year ago, and will need to apply for core funding to do this at some point in the future.

    Documents that had been previously circulated to the Steering Group by e-mail were distributed at the meeting on two of the top priorities for future funding, copy editing and CENTRAL:

    5.1 Copy editing
    : Philippa Middleton’s proposal for funding a professional copy editor for six months from central resources to copy edit some of the backlog of Cochrane Reviews was discussed. The estimated cost of this project would be £35,500. This proposal was put forward because a handful of CRGs are consistently not adhering to the style guidelines. This proposal was approved in principle, on the understanding that versions of reviews that had been copy edited must be returned to reviewers for their sign-off before publication. Mike agreed to ask for clarification as to why this exercise could not be done remotely (i.e. why the copy editor would need to travel to, and stay near, editorial bases) and the basis on which the per diem rate was calculated. He would also ask for a brief description of the exact process. Concerns were expressed about the shortage of time to copy edit reviews in the period between submission to the Parent Database and their publication in The Cochrane Library. Mike also agreed to explore the possibility of having spelling mistakes and typographical errors in titles and abstracts of reviews corrected centrally, after module submission and before publication of the next issue of The Cochrane Library. Jini volunteered to be involved in this initiative.
    Action: Mike, Jini

    5.2 CENTRAL: Davina described the reasons for some of the problems with CENTRAL, such as lack of standardisation in journal names leading to duplication of entries, and the fact that MEDLINE downloads over-write the specialised registers of CRGs. Mike, Davina and Nancy agreed to investigate the nature of the ongoing problems with CENTRAL, including why the register needs to be rebuilt every three months rather than being cleaned up and added to. It was agreed in principle that up to £5,000 could be spent from central resources on an independent research project to quantify the problems in CENTRAL, before committing to further expenditure.
    Action: Mike, Davina, Nancy
  1. Steering Group priorities
    Peter will produce a discussion document reassessing the priorities of the Steering Group and strategies for achieving the objectives of the Collaboration’s existing strategic plan. It was agreed to have a thorough discussion of this at the next Steering Group meeting in Chengdu in April 2002. Peter said he hoped to work with Chris Silagy, as the author of the original strategic plan. Gerd, Jim and Kathie also agreed to work on this with Peter.
    Action: Peter, Gerd, Jim, Kathie
  2. Preparation for the Annual General Meetings
    The conduct of these meetings on 13 October was discussed and agreed.
  3. Collaborative Review Group issues

  4. 8.1 Paying for refereeing: Chris explained that a debate had arisen among Co-ordinating Editors because of a misunderstanding in relation to how the Gynaecological Cancer Group were planning to obtain statistical help. Their proposal was not equivalent to paying for statistical refereeing, as some had thought. It was agreed that whether or not to pay for statistical help is an issue for individual Collaborative Review Groups, not a matter on which the Collaboration needs a central policy.

    8.2 Calendar of Events: Peter described the history behind this background document, which was to provide an overview of events in the Cochrane Collaboration, in an attempt to avoid overloading Collaborative Review Groups with several initiatives at once, or near the module submission deadline dates. Jim and Davina were asked to report back to the Steering Group on 13 October on issues of concern to the members of their constituencies.
    Action: Jim, Davina

  5. Report from the Collaboration’s publisher
    Mark Starr of Update Software attended the Steering Group meeting for this item only.

  6. 9.1 Distributors of The Cochrane Library: Mark Starr reported that a schedule of the major distributors of The Cochrane Library is now available. He reported that the estimated royalties on subscriptions to The Cochrane Library, of £250,000 per annum, had been exceeded. A gradual increase in sales is projected, but the emphasis is on opening up new markets rather than increasing income. He recommended a move to a web-based version of The Cochrane Library, with some of its component parts (i.e. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews) being made available separately. He explained that most distributors report back to Update Software the numbers of subscribers, and that he could provide these data to the Steering Group. However, he noted that the number of online subscriptions by organisations through agents such as OVID and Silver Platter do not give any indication as to the actual numbers of people accessing The Cochrane Library, and individual subscriptions are a relatively small proportion (12-15%) of the overall total. Mark was asked to provide the Publishing Policy Group with a list of where people can obtain public access to The Cochrane Library most easily around the world, to enable them to decide how and by whom this list could be accessed. For people wanting access to individual reviews, the current pay-per-view system remains the simplest approach.
    Action: Mark

    9.2 Translations of Cochrane material: Mark recommended that there be one central source of abstracts of Cochrane Reviews, with translations being done from that source.

    9.3 Impact factors – ISI indexing: Mark reported that the Institute of Scientific Information (ISI), founded by Eugene Garfield, have stated that they are not yet prepared to index The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (within The Cochrane Library), because they are unclear as to whether or not it is journal. However, they have agreed to reconsider their decision, and Update Software is still pushing for this. Mark was asked to emphasize to ISI that The Cochrane Library is a journal, and that Cochrane Reviews are subject to peer review. He suggested that one way to encourage ISI might be to publish The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews as a standalone, electronic journal. Other ways of measuring impact have not been addressed by Update Software.
    Action: Mark

    9.4 The next generation of The Cochrane Library: Mark explained that the current 16-bit system is now too large to be contained on two CDs, mostly due to the size of the indexing system and the CENTRAL database. The next generation of The Cochrane Library will be offered as an alternative to subscribers from Issue 1, 2002, with the aim of moving everyone over to it within the next twelve months, but maintaining the current version until then. Support for the Windows 3.1 and Windows for Work Groups versions (the 16-bit versions) will eventually cease. The latest test version of the next generation of The Library will be available for assessment on the web a few weeks after the Colloquium, and people will be asked to give feedback as quickly as possible. Mike agreed to write formally to Update Software to ask for a table of the documents (e.g. individual reviews and abstracts) that are accessed most frequently.
    Action: Mike

  7. Monitoring and Registration Group (MRG)

    10.1 Report and five-year budget plan
    Ruth reported on the MRG meeting that had been held in June, at which the monitoring process had identified several areas needing the attention of the Steering Group, as described in her report. Seventy-seven of the eighty-four entities had provided information on their funding, and Ruth agreed to circulate to the Steering Group the report that had been prepared recently for the Funders’ Forum presenting data from the individual entities without identifying them by name. This revealed that, based on their own assessments of their funding needs, adequate annual funding for all Cochrane entities would total between £8 and £10 million.
    Action: Ruth

    10.2 Future of the monitoring process
    Ruth described the fact that the work of this Group is increasingly burdensome, but that annual monitoring had generally been agreed to be optimum. It was agreed that having two Co-Convenors would spread the workload, and that more administrative support would help. Ruth was asked to explore various ideas with the MRG at its meeting on 10 October, and to make recommendations to the Steering Group on 13 October.
    Action: Ruth

    10.3 Losing sight of core functions by entities
    Ruth agreed to confirm with Paul Garner that he will assist the MRG by taking the lead in a consciousness raising exercise, to clarify the descriptions of the core functions of Collaborative Review Groups currently contained in The Cochrane Manual. Paul should involve the Co-ordinating Editors in this exercise. The lists of core functions of each entity should be included with the monitoring forms when they are distributed to entities.
    Action: Ruth
  8. U.S.A. issues
    Kay Dickersin attended the Steering Group meeting for this item only.

    Kay Dickersin had been invited to the meeting to discuss several issues related to the USA, because the U.S.A. is not currently represented on the Steering Group. She explained the particular situation in the U.S.A. which is that researchers in medical schools and schools of public health have to obtain outside funds (typically grants) to support the portion of their salaries devoted to research. Also, by law (or, in the case of foundations, through their stated missions), federal funding, such as that from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other funding is largely committed to funding research and training, and is not available for supporting infrastructure (such as running a Cochrane Centre). She described how there are some ways to obtain federal funding for infrastructure: for example, funds up to a maximum of $50,000 are obtainable for 'Task Orders', but such funds are circumscribed for a specific purchase of services and may be a one time offering. Applications can be made for unsolicited contracts, but the likelihood of success is very variable and most researchers would not use it unless they had some (unauthorised) assurances that the approach was feasible.

    Kay also explained that the NIH is divided into about two dozen institutes, centres, and offices, none of which is concerned with health as a whole, rather they are concerned with specific parts of the body (e.g. heart, lungs) or a disease (e.g. cancer). Thus, the funding mechanisms in the U.S.A. are typically applicable just to the part of the body or the disease with which the funding agency is concerned. Kay said that it is important that members of the Cochrane Collaboration or the Steering Group should not go directly to funders in the U.S.A. without first involving members of the Cochrane Collaboration who are based in the U.S.A. Contacts by people from outside the U.S.A. would be most welcome if a U.S.A. citizen accompanied the person from outside the U.S.A. who was making contact.

    Kay asked that all future approaches to funders in the U.S.A. should be channelled through the Directors of the U.S.A. Cochrane Centers. She explained that, of all the types of Cochrane entity, CRGs would be the most likely to obtain funding in the U.S.A., and that it is important to encourage CRGs to find reviewers, editors and other contributors from the U.S.A. Jini agreed to send Kay the wording of this minute in draft form so that she can amend it if appropriate, in order to help people outside the Steering Group to gain a better understanding of the funding situation in the U.S.A.
    Action: Jini
  9. Involvement by developing countries in the Cochrane Collaboration

    12.1 Recruiting contributors from developing countries
    : Ruth explained that one of the several common themes that had been identified in the entity monitoring process was the difficulty experienced by CRGs in recruiting contributors from developing countries. In general, the topic lists of CRGs reflect the health care priorities of developed countries, and these can be very different from the priorities of developing countries. Gerd pointed out that the definition of ‘developing country’ should not be based on economic wealth alone. Jim identified the usefulness of new reviewers, particularly those from developing countries, of visiting the editorial base to work on their review. It was agreed that the issue of developing country involvement is related to the need to identify strategies for forming alliances with international organisations, and Jim undertook to investigate the possibility of obtaining funding from the Gates Foundation. Nancy agreed to ask entities, in her forthcoming visits to them, what they are doing to involve people from developing countries. Elena raised the fact that people from developing countries often ask their reference Cochrane Centre for help in getting involved in the work of the Collaboration, but that some Centres find it difficult to provide such support within their limited resources.
    Action: Jim, Nancy

    12.2 Working party to promote involvement by people in developing countries: Youping was encouraged to invite Luis Cuervo, Paul Garner, Metin Gulmezoglu and Jimmy Volmink to join a small working party, including herself, Samuel, David Henderson-Smart and Chris Williams, and Jini was asked to send her the contact details of these named individuals. Youping should bring the working party’s recommendations to the next Steering Group meeting in Chengdu in April 2002.
    Action: Youping, Samuel, David, Chris, Jini

    12.3 Languages other than English:
    Hilda said it was important to have a central repository of information on the languages into which Cochrane material has been translated. Mike advised that it is Update Software’s responsibility to keep such a log.
  10. Establishing branches/networks of Cochrane Centres
    Ruth described how the monitoring process had identified the lack of a policy on the process for establishing branches/networks of Cochrane Centres. It was agreed that, as a minimum requirement, Centres should describe their branches or networks in their modules in The Cochrane Library. They should also provide a brief report to the Monitoring and Registration Group as part of the monitoring process, and it was agreed [in the Steering Group meeting on 13 October] that the establishment of additional branches of Cochrane Centres should seek approval from the MRG. It was agreed that the relevant Cochrane Centre bears the responsibility for their branches or networks, and the possibility of devising a checklist for registering a new branch or network was supported by some Steering Group members. Elena agreed to take this suggestion to the Centre Directors for discussion, and report back to the Steering Group.
    Action: Elena
  11. Strategy for forming alliances with international organisations
  12. Hilda spoke to the background document, which had primarily been produced by Dan Fox of the Milbank Memorial Fund and Jimmy Volmink of the Global Health Council in Washington. It might be useful to hold a workshop to discuss how to achieve such alliances. Mike introduced the name of Michael Stein, with whom a few people on the Steering Group had had conversations. David HS suggested that Michael Stein might be someone who could help in developing the liaisons to be discussed in Chengdu in April 2002. It was agreed to invite Michael to come to Lyon to meet with Dan Fox, Jimmy Volmink, Kay Dickersin and others during this Colloquium.
    Action: Jini

  13. Reports and five-year budget plans from the Steering Group’s advisory groups

    15.1 CENTRAL/CCTR Advisory Group (CCAG): The six-monthly report from the CCAG was discussed. Davina was asked to seek clarification from the CCAG as to why the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) will not allow the abstracts from their annual meetings to be incorporated in CENTRAL. It was noted that approximately 300 of these abstracts each year, for the past 20 years, report randomised trials. Consideration of the CCAG’s request for funds (see item 5.2 above) was deferred, pending a special research project to quantify the problems within CENTRAL.
    Action: Davina
  14. 15.2 Cochrane Library Users’ Group (CLUG): Concern had been expressed that, although there were currently 242 members, the membership of the CLUG could be broader, and that there was a barrier to contributors whose first language was other than English. Elena’s suggestion was agreed to, that Ian Watt be requested to ask Centres to survey librarians to try to ascertain who uses The Cochrane Library and how. Mike reported that Ian Watt would be standing down as Convenor of the CLUG in November, and that Julie Glanville had been suggested as a possible replacement. Mike was asked to convey the Steering Group’s thanks to Ian and to invite Julie to take over as Convenor.
    Action: Mike

    15.3 Colloquium Policy Advisory Group (CPAG): The CPAG had asked the Steering Group for a clearer remit for the CPAG, and sought clarification of which reports were needed after each Colloquium. The CPAG’s report had noted that the Group would benefit from knowing what the Steering Group’s priorities are on such things as the monitoring process, sponsorship, providing feedback, and the administration of prizes. The Steering Group endorsed the suggestion of the CPAG that a standing committee be formed in relation to prizes such as the Thomas C Chalmers MD Award and the Kenneth Warren Prize: Elena was asked to request the CPAG to name people to act on this committee. She was also asked to convey to the CPAG that they should consider how the Steering Group could have more input to major aspects of how individual Colloquia are organised.
    Action: Elena

    15.4 Criticism Management Advisory Group (CMAG): David HS advised that the CMAG had requested that the name of the Group be changed to something sounding more positive, possibly the ‘Review Feedback Advisory Group’. He agreed to report back to the Steering Group by e-mail with the name that the CMAG favoured, following their meeting on 13 October. He would also ask the Group to consider the implications of a name change within the Collaboration’s documentation, and to devise a plan for doing this if a new name is approved by the Steering Group.
    Action: David Henderson-Smart

    15.5 Handbook Advisory Group (HAG): The Steering Group were pleased to endorse Phil Alderson’s request to make the open learning material that he is developing on Cochrane Reviews an official Collaboration product, under the remit of the Handbook Advisory Group. Mike would convey this to Phil, with thanks for his valuable work in this area.
    Action: Mike

    15.6 Information Management System Group (IMSG): It was agreed that the IMSG should advise on the technical aspects of the Cochrane Collaboration’s web site (such as implementation, delivery/accessibility and choice of platform), with the German Centre continuing to manage the site, for which they have been promised two years’ full-time funding. The PPG remains responsible for the content of the site. Hilda raised the issue that some Steering Group members and entities do not have adequate information on who is in their constituency. She was advised that a new contacts management system is currently being piloted. This is a web-based, password protected, centralised database of contact details of members of the Collaboration. There are unresolved issues surrounding data protection and who should have the ability to update the database. Anyone willing to help in the testing of this software should contact Monica Fischer at the Nordic Cochrane Centre. It was noted that, following a call for new members, Elizabeth Pienaar was selected and has agreed to join the IMSG, representing developing countries.
    Action: Mike

    15.7 Quality Advisory Group (QAG): The proposal for a short-term copy editing project to clear the backlog of reviews had already been discussed (see item 5.1 above). Arianne Verhagen at the Dutch Cochrane Centre had already started compiling an editorial process checklist. Nancy Owens has joined the QAG, and was asked to co-ordinate her activities with Arianne, in order to have a concerted approach to the issue of raising the quality of Cochrane Reviews and of their updating.
    Action: Nancy

  15. Report from the Cochrane Collaboration Ombudsmen

    16.1 Collaboration Ombudsmen:
    Chris Silagy and Gill Gyte, ex-members of the Steering Group, are the Ombudsmen for the Collaboration. During the year they had been consulted on a small number of issues. Among these was their recommendation that it would be inappropriate for Steering Group members to claim business class travel to attend Steering Group meetings. The policy was agreed that Steering Group members should claim reimbursement for economy class travel only, except in instances of ill health or other special circumstances. Peter agreed to write a letter of thanks to Chris and Gill for their helpful report.
    Action: Peter

    16.2 Host for mid-year Steering Group and Centre Directors’ meetings: It was noted that the venue for this meeting in 2003 needs to be decided by the end of 2001, and that all Centre Directors should be canvassed for volunteers to host the meetings, with one of the Centre representatives taking the lead to do this.
    Action: Gerd, Elena, Kathie, Youping
  16. Request for proposals for future publishing arrangements

    17.1 Request For Proposals (RFP): Mike circulated to the Steering Group a confidential document drafted by the RFP consultant, and collected up all copies at the end of the discussion. He outlined the proposed timetable for agreeing the RFP to tender for a new publishing contract. He explained that he, Hilda, Chris, and Peter, Ron Stamp of the UK NHS Research and Development Programme, and Dan Fox of the Milbank Memorial Fund were the only people to have seen this confidential document to date. It was hoped that the RFP would be finalised by the end of October, consultation would then take place on where the RFP should be advertised, bids should be received by the end of December, a shortlist should be drawn up by next April, and the publishing contract should be awarded to the successful bidder by June 2002, with a view to it coming into effect from 1 January 2003. The various deadlines will include exact times and time zones. It was agreed that the RFP should concentrate on the production of the Collaboration’s core product, Cochrane Reviews. Any questions raised by accepted bidders will be circulated, with the answer, to all bidders, so that everyone has the same information. Clarifications were sought and given on various aspects of the process. Mike will discuss the necessary changes with the RFP consultant. Additional Steering Group members should be added to the panel that scrutinises the bids for the contract, as well as people from outside the Steering Group. Hilda Bastian and Chris Williams who have been involved in the process so far but are about to leave the Steering Group will remain involved. It was agreed that the Steering Group has an overriding obligation to the charity and the members of the Cochrane Collaboration in arranging a new publishing deal. The Collaboration’s lawyers will be called on to assist in this process as necessary, and it was suggested that it might be sensible to obtain some advice on the management of change.

    17.2 Current publishing arrangement: It was agreed that the process for handling this matter should be as businesslike as possible. The Collaboration has evolved to the point where it needs to negotiate a publishing arrangement for the future on a more professional footing than hitherto, and it should be made explicit that this is in no way an expression of mistrust of the current publishers. On the contrary, their generosity and loyalty to the Collaboration were acknowledged, and have been greatly appreciated. They will need to be given notice of termination of their current contract with the Collaboration, to provide a greater sense of clarity in relation to their contracts with existing and new subscribers and distributors. It was agreed that the current contract should be terminated on a specific date when the timetable for the new publishing deal was more definite. The specific date on which a new publishing arrangement will come into effect will also need to be announced when this is known.

    17.3 Proposal from Andy Oxman and Monica Fischer: A document outlining a proposal for in-house publishing had been received from Andy Oxman and Monica Fischer. This was not discussed in detail because it was agreed that the Steering Group was already committed to the current process, and that this proposal should be considered along with any other bids that are made.
  17. Membership of the sub- and advisory groups to the Steering Group
    Peter and Mike had not received any comments on their proposed allocation of members of the Steering Group to its various sub-groups and advisory groups, and a document confirming these memberships was circulated. The Secretariat should effect these changes in all relevant documentation and on the Collaboration web site as soon as possible.
    Action: Jini, Claire
  18. Comments from outgoing members of the Steering Group and feedback from entity meetings

    19.1 Comments from outgoing members of the Steering Group
    : [this item was dealt with on 9 October] Chris Williams thanked everyone for the opportunity of attending Steering Group meetings for the past three years, and said he had enjoyed his time on the Steering Group. He stressed again his opinion that the Steering Group should be paying more attention to strategic than to administrative matters, and was pleased to see that this is becoming more the norm; he also stressed the importance of considering the medium to long-term strategy rather than the last six months. While Hilda Bastian thought that Steering Group discussions went too fast for those whose first language is other than English to assimilate a topic and contribute to the discussion, she said she was very pleased at how the Steering Group had evolved over time. On behalf of the whole Steering Group, Peter thanked Chris and Hilda for their many valuable contributions to the work of the Collaboration, and presented them each with a small farewell gift.

    19.2 Feedback from various entity meetings during the Colloquium
    It was agreed that feedback from the various entity meetings during Colloquia should be a standing item on the agenda for future Steering Group meetings.
    Action: Claire

    19.2.1 Feedback from the Co-ordinating Editors’ meeting
    : Jim Neilson provided feedback from discussions among Co-ordinating Editors, both at their recent meeting and outside it: Some Co-ordinating Editors felt that they are under-represented on the Steering Group and that a second place should be earmarked for a Co-ordinating Editor.
    Davina and Jini were asked to include a question relating to changing the balance of representation on the Steering Group, in the document of outstanding issues surrounding elections, to be circulated shortly to all entities. This matter should be included on the agenda for discussion at the next Steering Group meeting in Chengdu in April 2002.
    Action: Davina, Jini, Claire
    The Co-ordinating Editors had also suggested the need for CRG input into the Funders’ Forum. Peter agreed to consult with the Collaboration’s partners in the Funders’ Forum with a view to including entity representatives in that group.
    Action: Peter It was suggested that notifications of reviewers scheduled to have their complimentary copies withdrawn should be sent to Review Group Co-ordinators twelve months and six months in advance. It was restated that CRG editorial teams will be sent additional, free CD-ROMS which they can send to a reviewer whose complimentary copy has been withdrawn.
    Action: Mike It was suggested that there is a need for guidelines on how to handle reviews which are of historical interest only. This suggestion should be forwarded in writing to the Publishing Policy Group for consideration.
    Action: Jim A sub-group of Co-ordinating Editors was established, consisting of Frans Helmerhorst (chair), Clive Adams and Phil Wiffen, to discuss issues relating to conflict of interest in commercial sponsorship. Jim should ask them to liaise with Hilda Bastian (see item 2.18 and 2.19 above).
    Action: Jim The view had been expressed that there is a lack of focus in the job description for the Quality Improvement Manager, and that it may not be necessary for Nancy to visit every single entity. Nancy’s proposed schedule of entity visits, and their content, will be revisited.
    Action: Peter, Mike, Nancy Payment by CRGs for statistical input had been hotly debated, and the Co-ordinating Editors had asked that a strategy for central provision be considered by the Steering Group. It was agreed that paying for statistical help with reviews is a CRG issue, but could be considered for central funding.
    Action: Peter, Mike The existing system of Comments and Criticisms of Cochrane Reviews is not deemed by all to be working well, and needs to be looked at critically. There should be a mechanism in the system for dealing with methodological problems. Mike suggested that ways of capturing solutions to difficult problems could be dealt with by including ‘case histories’ in the annual Methods Groups newsletter and he will send a message to the Co-ordinating Editors about this. Further discussion of the comments and criticisms system should wait for feedback from the 13 October meeting of the Criticism Management Advisory Group.
    Action: Mike

  19. It was noted that the issue of inclusion of non-randomised studies in Cochrane Reviews is under ongoing discussion within the Non-Randomised Studies Methods Group.

    19.2.2 Feedback from the RGCs’/TSCs’ meeting: Issues raised were: (a) reviews inherited from another CRG with different editorial standards; (b) conflict and resolution, and the existence of the Ombudsmen; (c) the facility to publish editorials with reviews; (d) reviews covering more than one CRG; (e) the monitoring process; (f) consumer synopses and differences between those drafted by a CRG and those by the Consumer Network. Davina advised that the Action Group had been disbanded since it had outlived its usefulness. She undertook to circulate to the Steering Group in due course the report she would be writing of the RGCs/TSCs’ meeting held on 9 October.
    Action: Davina

    19.2.3 Feedback from the Methods Groups’ meeting
    : The Methods Group representatives had recommended (a) increased representation on the Steering Group; and (b) clarifying the Cochrane Collaboration’s current approach to the evaluation of diagnostic test accuracy. The issue of representation will be dealt with in the forthcoming survey about the electoral process for the Steering Group, being co-ordinated by Davina and Jini. Mike will provide feedback to the Methods Groups in relation to diagnostic tests, namely that whether or not reviews of diagnostic test accuracy will become eligible as Cochrane reviews will depend on a piloting of the production of such reviews, and the provision of appropriate software, guidance and support.
    Action: Davina, Jini, Mike

    19.2.4 Feedback from the Fields meeting: Vittorio reported that there had been discussion of the substantial differences between Fields in the support they can provide to CRGs. It was agreed that the core functions of Fields should be stated more clearly in The Cochrane Manual.
    Action: Vittorio

    19.2.5 Feedback from the Consumer Network meeting
    : Samuel reported that there had been nothing substantial to bring to the Steering Group from this meeting.

    19.2.6 Feedback from the Monitoring and Registration Group meeting
    : There had been unanimous agreement within the MRG to continue conducting monitoring annually, and they had agreed that there should be more in-depth evaluation of those entities experiencing difficulties. Claire Allen in the Secretariat spends about a fifth of her time supporting the MRG, who requested that more of her time be devoted officially to this work. The Steering Group therefore supported Jini’s request to employ a part-time secretary in the Secretariat, to free up Claire for work related to the MRG. It had been agreed that Samuel Ochieng would become the Co-Convenor of the MRG, and that registration issues would be separated from monitoring issues, with the relevant entity representatives taking the lead on registration issues. The MRG needs an RGC member, and it was agreed to identify someone from outside the Steering Group and, ideally, from outside the UK, to ensure international representation on the MRG. Ruth and Davina will discuss potential new members and will suggest someone to the Steering Group for approval. The core functions of the MRG as they appear in The Cochrane Manual should be revisited. Peter thanked the MRG members, particularly Ruth, for the enormous amount of work they had done over the past year.
    Action: Ruth, Davina, Jini

    19.2.7 Feedback from Centres/Centre Staff meetings: Elena reported that there would be written feedback from these meetings. In the meantime, it was noted that Sally Green of the Australasian Cochrane Centre had volunteered to take over from Gerd Antes the organisation of the Centre Directors’ meetings for the next two years.

    19.2.8 Feedback from the Funders’ Forum: Peter reported that this meeting had been attended by twelve representatives from several countries. A written report will be prepared by Ron Stamp and circulated appropriately by Peter. The Forum will meet again during the next Colloquium in Stavanger in July 2002.
    Action: Peter

  20. Colloquium funding
    It was agreed that the Colloquium Policy Advisory Group should be asked to advise the Steering Group as to whether or not to provide some central funding for future Colloquia, for discussion at the next Steering Group meeting in Chengdu in April 2002.
    Action: Elena
  21. Definitions of intellectual property rights - synopses
    Peter explained that he, Gerd, Hilda and Mark Starr had met on 11 October to discuss this issue. An agreement needs to be formalised within the Collaboration as to who owns copyright of the consumer synopses.
    Action: Peter
  22. Relationship between Cochrane reviewers and their editors
    Mike agreed to discuss how best to approach this issue with the facilitators of the Colloquium workshop ‘Identifying and handling potential research misconduct’ (Craig Ramsay, Frank Wells, Iain Chalmers and Drummond Rennie),
    and will prepare a paper for discussion at the Steering Group meeting in Chengdu relating, in part, to the idea of a Publications ombudsman.
    Action: Mike
  23. Statement on policy of inclusion of information on children in reviews
    This item was referred to the editors of the Handbook Advisory Group as it pertains to a policy on the content of Cochrane Reviews. Vittorio will advise the Child Health Field of this.
    Action: Vittorio
  24. Arrangements for next CCSG meeting, Chengdu, China, 9-12 April 2002
    Youping was thanked for offering to host these meetings. She described the proposed schedule: Centre Directors’ meeting on 7 and 8 April 2002, and Steering Group meeting on 11 and 12 April. (Everyone will be asked to participate in some way in the 2nd Asian-Pacific Conference on Evidence-Based Medicine in Chengdu on 9 April, and 10 April will be reserved for sightseeing.) Jini advised that Sally Green of the Australasian Cochrane Centre had volunteered to act as liaison between the Centre Directors, the Steering Group and the Chinese Cochrane Centre in arranging these meetings, with input from Jini. The Centre Directors and Steering Group should be notified in writing as soon as possible of the proposed arrangements, and told what will be required of them in relation to the Asian-Pacific Conference. Youping Li will send letters of invitation to Jini to distribute to everyone going to China, in order for them to obtain their visas (this could take as long as three months).
    Action: Youping, Jini
  25. Choosing a Chair of the Steering Group
    The question of who will succeed Peter Langhorne as Chair should be decided at the next Steering Group meeting in Chengdu in April 2002. If there is no suitable candidate within the Steering Group, the Constitution of the Cochrane Collaboration allows for the new Chair to come from outside the Steering Group and to be brought into the Steering Group outside of the normal election process. Their appointment would then need to be agreed at the subsequent Annual General Meeting. However, it was agreed that it would be preferable to look within the existing Steering Group before taking this option.
    Action: Everyone
  26. Suggested revisions to the Constitution
    It was agreed to defer discussion on this item until a background document is available. Hilda will prepare this for discussion at the next Steering Group meeting in Chengdu in April 2002.
    Action: Hilda
  27. Spreadsheet of CCSG members’ outstanding action items
    Peter reminded everyone to notify Claire of action items that they had accomplished, so that these items can be removed from the spreadsheet.
    Action: Everyone
  28. Thanks to the host
    The Steering Group registered a formal vote of thanks to Margaret Haugh for hosting the Lyon Colloquium.
  29. Any other business

    29.1 The Campbell Collaboration:
    Peter advised that Lisa Bero, ex-member of the Cochrane Collaboration Steering Group, had agreed to be the liaison person between the Cochrane and Campbell Collaborations. This was approved by the Steering Group.
    Action: Peter

    29.2 Michael Stein
    : This person attended the Steering Group meeting for this item only. Michael Stein had been invited to attend part of the Lyon Colloquium, in order to meet the Steering Group and other members of the Collaboration, with a view to finding a fit between his skills and some specific tasks that need to be done within the Collaboration. Michael recommended that the Collaboration agree a central strategy and a sustainable financial model to sustain its core competence, and to develop a tactical approach for the future. He said that the Collaboration should not be afraid of adopting a business model. He suggested that a central person could be identified to prepare grant applications, which would save many individuals a great deal of time. He offered to help the Collaboration on a consultancy basis in setting up appropriate projects. This offer was accepted, subject to satisfactory references, and he agreed to provide the Steering Group with a list of projects that would both benefit the Collaboration and match his skills and expertise.
    Action: Michael Stein

    History of the Collaboration: As the Collaboration will reach its tenth anniversary in 2003, Kathie volunteered to explore how a history of the organisation could be compiled, with input from Nancy.
    Action: Kathie, Nancy

    29.4 Colloquium in 2005: A host for the Colloquium in 2005 should be discussed among the Centre Directors and the Colloquium Policy Advisory Group. The four Centre representatives on the Steering Group should decide which of them will take the lead in canvassing for offers, bearing in mind the offer already made informally by the Australasian Cochrane Centre. Elena will raise the matter with the Colloquium Policy Advisory Group.
    Action: Elena, Gerd, Kathie, Youping

    29.5 Thanks to Secretariat staff
    : Peter thanked Jini and Claire for preparing the agenda and taking the minutes of the Steering Group meeting. He also thanked Malcolm Newdick, the Company Secretary, for coming to Lyon to attend the Annual General Meetings.