Minutes of meeting of the

Cochrane Collaboration Steering Group,

Chengdu, China, 11 and 12 April 2002

[Minutes approved on 21 May 2002]



Adverse events, inclusion of information on, in Cochrane Reviews


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

12, 26.8

Advisory Group, Quality


Advisory Groups, conflict of interest within


Advisory Group, general availability of their reports

Annual General Meetings



Campbell Collaboration, liaison


CCInfo, entity contact people


CENTRAL, funding

8.1, 8.3, 26.3

Chair of the Steering Group, selection of


Chief Executive Officer

7, 8.3

Chinese Cochrane Centre, thanks


Chris Silagy Prize and Fund

Cochrane Reviews, citation format

Cochrane Reviews, funding

Code of conduct of members of the Cochrane Collaboration





Collaborative Review Groups, lessons from mammographic screening review


Collaborative Review Groups, title overlap

14.1, 17.1

Collaborative Review Groups, RGC/TSC meeting in Stavanger


Collaborative Review Groups, editorial conflict between and within


Collaborative Review Groups, request from some editorial base staff


Colloquia, standard operating procedures


Colloquium, 2002, RGC/TSC meeting


Colloquium, 2003


Colloquium, 2004


Colloquium, 2005

26.5, 35

Company Secretary, responsibilities


Conflicts of interest and the Cochrane Collaboration


Conflicts of interest in commercial sponsorship of Cochrane Reviews


Conflicts of interest, policy on


Constitution of the Collaboration


Consumer health information system


Consumer Network

31.2, 39.2

Consumer stipends


Contingency Fund expenditure


Copy editing, funding

8.2, 8.3

Developing countries' involvement in the Cochrane Collaboration


Discretionary Fund expenditure


Electoral process, changes


Entity representatives communicating with their constituents


Finance, CENTRAL

8.1, 8.3, 26.3

Finance, copy editing

8.2, 8.3

Finance, current financial situation


Finance, Contingency and Discretionary Fund expenditure


Finance, revised funding priorities

8.1, 8.2, 8.3

French Cochrane Centre


Funders' Forum


History of the Cochrane Collaboration


Information Management System, development

12, 39.5

International organisations, strategic alliances


ISI indexing, citation format for Cochrane Reviews


Mammographic screening review, lessons to be learnt from


Media, advice for dealing with


Methods Groups, election


Monitoring and Registration Group, revisiting the core functions of entities


Monitoring and Registration Group, report and budget


Needs Assessment Survey




Ombudsman, Publications

14.1, 17.1

Pharmaceutical companies, release of data


Pharmaceutical industry, sponsorship of reviews


Publications Ombudsman

14.1, 17.1

Publishing contract


Publishing Policy Group


Quality Improvement Manager, interviewing the Steering Group


Quality Improvement Manager, preliminary report


Reviews, adverse events


Reviews, change of citation format for ISI indexing purposes

Reviews, cost



Reviews, editorial conflict


Reviews, funding and conflict of interest


Reviews, impact factor


Reviews, splitting


Reviews, updating


Reviews, withdrawn or suspended


RGC/TSC meeting in Stavanger


Secretariat, possible Chief Executive

7, 8.3

Steering Group and Cochrane Collaboration priorities


Steering Group attendance at meetings


Steering Group, Chair

5, 31.1

Steering Group, communication

39.5, 39.6

Steering Group, declaration of conflict of interest


Steering Group, electoral process


Steering Group, length of meetings


Steering Group, meetings in Stavanger

24, 25

Steering Group, mid-year meetings


Steering Group, mid-year meeting, 2003


Steering Group, mid-year meeting, 2004


Steering Group, mid-year meeting, 2005


Steering Group, Annual General Meetings


Steering Group, relationship with Trading Company


Steering Group, responsibilities of the Chair and members


Steering Group, outstanding action items


Strategic Plan


Trading Company Directors, relationship with Steering Group


Treasurer, responsibilities


Update Software, report


Women, participation in the Collaboration


Minutes of

Cochrane Collaboration Steering Group meeting

Chengdu, China

11 and 12 April 2002

[Minutes approved on 21 May 2002]

Present: Gerd Antes, 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.

  1. Welcomes, apologies for absence, introductions and approval of the agenda
    Peter Langhorne welcomed everyone to the meeting. Apologies for absence had been received from Elena Telaro and David Wilkinson. The agenda was approved. Peter reminded everyone that the minutes of the previous full Steering Group meeting held in Lyon in October 2001 had been approved by the Executive on 20 November 2001.
  2. The Chris Silagy Prize and Fund
    David H-S reported that the Fund currently amounts to 20,000 Australian dollars, and that an annual prize of 1,000 Australian dollars is envisaged. It was agreed that the Prize should be awarded for "an outstanding contribution" rather than for a contribution "beyond the call of duty". The Fund was set up at the wish of and to commemorate Chris Silagy (a key member of the Cochrane Collaboration and former Chair of the Steering Group) and the Prize would always be awarded to a member of the Collaboration. It was agreed that it would be appropriate for the Collaboration to make a contribution towards this Prize from core funds by paying the registration, travel and accommodation expenses for each year's winner to attend the Colloquium at which they would be given the Prize. David H-S agreed to represent the Steering Group on the panel for this Prize, and to report back the Steering Group's discussion and decision to the panel.
    Action: David H-S
  3. Matters arising from minutes of the previous meeting, not on this agenda

    Item 2.26 - Revisions to the Constitution
    : It was agreed to wait until after the next meeting of the Steering Group in Stavanger before revising the Constitution, by which time the Steering Group would anticipate a Chief Executive Officer being in post (see items 7 and 8.3). It was also noted that the revised Constitution would need formal approval at the Annual General Meeting of the Cochrane Collaboration, and that there was not enough time for this to happen this year.

    Item 2.15 - Cost of producing individual reviews: Chris Williams had agreed to produce a paper on this for discussion by the Steering Group. Jini was asked to remind Chris to prepare this in time for discussion by the Steering Group in Stavanger.
    Action: Jini
  4. Report from the Treasurer:
  5. 4.1 Tables of Contingency and Discretionary Fund expenditure: Mike reported on the expenditure from the Contingency and Discretionary Funds in the financial year to 31 March 2002. In light of the Collaboration entering a new financial year, Kathie Clark agreed to send out a reminder via CCInfo about the existence of the Discretionary Fund, together with the criteria for applying. This fund would continue to be limited to a total annual expenditure of 10,000 sterling, and applications would be dealt with as they arrive (i.e. on a first-come, first-served basis). With regard to the Contingency Fund, the Steering Group had already agreed that a contribution of 10,000 sterling would be made from this Fund towards consumer and developing country stipends to attend the Stavanger Colloquium. This would come from the budget for the current financial year (i.e. 2002/2003).
    Action: Kathie

    4.2 Spreadsheet of current financial situation: Mike explained the current financial situation of the Collaboration. It was agreed to consider committing expenditure on Collaboration-wide activities that are judged to be of high priority. A running total of these commitments would be kept during the meeting, and reassessed towards the end of it. At the end of the meeting the Steering Group reassessed the activities that they had agreed were priorities for expenditure (listed in item 8.3), and confirmed their decision to go ahead and fund those items.

  6. Choosing a Chair of the Steering Group
    Peter reminded everyone that at the Steering Group meeting in Lyon he had asked anyone to come forward who felt able to take on this role when he steps down at the Annual General Meeting in August 2002. Mike Clarke and Jim Neilson volunteered to take on this responsibility as Co-Chairs, and the Steering Group were asked to think about this overnight. They agreed at their meeting the following day to elect Mike and Jim to this role. It was agreed that the succession process between Chairs should be more formally planned in the future, and should bear in mind the diversity of membership of the Cochrane Collaboration. Davina agreed to include information about how the Chair is replaced in the draft document she has been working on which describes the electoral process for the Steering Group, to be discussed by the Group in Stavanger. Mike will cease to be the Methods Group representative when he becomes Co-Chair of the Steering Group, and the Secretariat will initiate an election for someone to replace him in this role.
    Action: Davina, Claire
  7. CCSG and Cochrane Collaboration priorities
    (planning priorities and revised strategic plan)
    The Steering Group broke up into three small groups to scrutinise in detail the changes that Peter had suggested for the Collaboration's existing Strategic Plan. The small groups were asked to make suggestions for revisions to the Plan, in the light of existing and future priorities. There was discussion of the general conclusions from each group, and one member from each group agreed to give suggestions for specific amendments to Peter. He will incorporate suggested changes and circulate the revised Strategic Plan to the Steering Group by the end of April 2002. This will allow time for wide consultation within the Cochrane Collaboration, before it can be formally presented during the Stavanger Colloquium. The implementation of the Plan will be discussed at the next meeting of the Steering Group in Stavanger.
    Action: David H-S, Jim, Ruth, Peter
  8. Draft job description for a possible Chief Executive Officer
    It was agreed that the Collaboration should fund this position, with the aim of employing someone by the end of 2002. A working group was set up to prepare the job description, person specification, and terms and conditions of employment. This working group will include Kathie Clark, Mike Clarke, Davina Ghersi, Peter Langhorne, Jim Neilson, and one of the directors of the Collaboration Trading Company, by whom this person would be employed. Mike will contact Jos Kleijnen about which director will join the working group. The information prepared by this working group will be discussed by the full Steering Group at its next meeting
    in Stavanger with the hope of beginning the recruitment process shortly after the Colloquium. Peter agreed to investigate whether it would be sensible to employ professional help in identifying suitable candidates for the position.
    Action: Mike, Peter
  9. Funding priorities within the Cochrane Collaboration:
8.1 CENTRAL: Mike reported that the assessment of the generic sources of records that are inappropriately included in CENTRAL is in progress. He will report to the CENTRAL/CCTR Advisory Group in early May 2002 so that they can suggest options (with timescales and associated costs) for solving the identified problems. It should be possible for the Steering Group to decide on the preferred option at its next meeting in Stavanger.
Action: Mike, Davina

Copy editing: Approval was given for Philippa Middleton to proceed with the proposed six-month project to carry out retrospective copy editing of about 300 reviews across 10 collaborative review groups; the submitted budget of between 30,000 and 35,000 sterling for this project was approved. Nancy Owens and Jini Hetherington, who have been working with Philippa on various copy editing projects, agreed to work with her to identify, train and support suitable copy editors in North America and Europe. Expenditure of an additional 2,000 sterling was approved to complete the style guidelines project currently in progress by Sonja Henderson and Harriet MacLehose. Further expenditure of between 13,000 and 18,000 (depending on how much is spent on the retrospective copy editing project) was approved for the prepublication copy editing pilots, as outlined in Philippa's document to the Steering Group dated March 2002. The overall total expenditure on copy editing (retrospective, style guidelines, and prepublication projects) should not exceed 50,000 sterling. Mike will inform Philippa of these decisions.
Action: Mike
8.3 Revised funding priorities: It was agreed that the priority is to employ a Chief Executive Officer for the Collaboration, to commence employment by the end of 2002: see item 7 above. The Steering Group approved expenditure of up to 100,000 sterling to cover recruitment and advertising costs, in addition to salary and employer contributions for the first year for this post. In addition, the Steering Group gave provisional approval to spend up to 50,000 sterling on the retrospective improvement of CENTRAL, up to 50,000 sterling on the copy editing projects detailed by Philippa Middleton, and an amount yet to be budgeted by the Nordic Cochrane Centre on software development (but not to exceed 50,000 sterling per year for up to two years): see item 12 below. It was agreed that these amounts relate to the current financial year (i.e. 1 April 2002 to 31 March 2003). Mike and Jini will revise the spreadsheet to take account of these decisions.
Action: Mike, Jini

9. Report from the Collaboration's publisher
The report from Update Software was received. It was noted that Mark Starr had made good progress in negotiating with ISI to include Cochrane Reviews in the Science Citation Index, which would lead to an impact factor for these (see item 15); Mike (as liaison officer between the Collaboration and Update Software) should convey the Steering Group's thanks to Mark for this achievement. Mike should also ask Mark to provide a corrected list of frequently accessed reviews (Annex 3 to his report). It was agreed that there should be discussion within the Steering Group of how this type of information (for example, identifying the review that was accessed most often) should be circulated more widely within the Collaboration.
Action: Mike

10. Request For Proposals (RFP) for a new publishing contract
Mike advised that the process of establishing a new arrangement for the publication of the Cochrane Collaboration's output was still on schedule. The tender for a new publishing contract had been advertised, a shortlist had been drawn up, and these candidates would be interviewed on 9 May 2002, with a view to having a new contract negotiated by the end of June 2002, so that the new publishing arrangement can commence on 1 January 2003. The selection panel consists of Gerd Antes, Mike Clarke, Peter Langhorne, Jim Neilson and Elena Telaro from the Steering Group, plus Hilda Bastian, Chris Williams, Metin Gulmezoglu and Anthony Watkinson. Drummond Rennie and Monica Fischer are acting as advisors to the panel, without voting rights. There was much discussion about the most appropriate time to terminate the existing publishing contract, which has to be done a minimum of six months before the new contract can commence. After lengthy debate, it was agreed to wait as long as possible before formally ending the current contract. However, in fairness to members of the Cochrane Collaboration, it was agreed that a message should be sent to all entities to advise them of the expected timetable for a new publishing arrangement, and to note that this should be kept in mind if anyone wishes to enter into an agreement under the existing publishing arrangement.
Action: Mike

11. Revisiting the core functions of Cochrane entities
Ruth explained that last year's monitoring process had identified that some entities seemed to be in danger of losing sight of their core functions, and that there were gaps in The Cochrane Manual describing what these functions are. It was agreed that entity core functions should be revisited and that the Monitoring and Registration Group should advise on how best to do this.
Action: Ruth, Samuel

12. Report on the Cochrane Needs Assessment Survey
Mike presented the recommendations of the Information Management System Group arising from the Needs Assessment Survey. These recommendations were slightly different to those in the report of the Survey that had been prepared by Julian Higgins, Tess Moore, Phil Wiffen and himself, and which was included in the papers for this meeting of the Steering Group. The discussion of these recommendations took account of the work currently being undertaken by the Quality Improvement Manager. It was agreed that the recommendations relating directly to the Information Management System should be prioritised (i.e.
The Cochrane Collaboration should develop an improved central system for the management of people's contact details; the components of the Information Management System should be made more interlinked so that information in different components can be automatically shared among these parts; the components of the Information Management System should allow users to work in existing, popular software as much as possible (e.g. for word processing, reference management and statistical analysis); the Cochrane Collaboration should continue to develop and support the tools for compiling and submitting the modules (including reviews) of CRGs and the descriptions of activity of other Cochrane entities; the Cochrane Collaboration should consider how best to support the need for systems to track reviews within CRGs; and the Cochrane Collaboration should develop, and encourage the development of, systems for handling contact information that are based on clearly defined standards for exchange of information; rather than supporting all the systems for managing contact information which are used locally within Cochrane entities). It was agreed that it would be most appropriate for the Information Management System team at the Nordic Cochrane Centre to be asked to implement these recommendations. Monica Fischer will be asked to provide timelines and a budget for consideration by the Executive on 21 May 2002. It was agreed that funding sufficient to employ an additional programmer for two years should be made available from the Collaboration's core funds.
Action: Mike

13. Preliminary report from the Quality Improvement Manager
Nancy expanded on the recommendations contained in her preliminary report to the Steering Group, stressing that every entity she had visited had told her at least one thing she did not already know. The requirement was restated that Nancy should include firm recommendations in her final report to the Steering Group at its meeting in Stavanger, and that it should not simply be a collation of useful materials and ideas; Nancy confirmed that she would be able to do this. It was agreed that Nancy should continue her visits to entities as scheduled, and should put the materials she has gathered to date somewhere centrally so that they can be accessed immediately by others. She should discuss the most appropriate way to do this with the Secretariat and the German Cochrane Centre (because of their responsibility for the Collaboration's website).
Action: Nancy, Jini, Gerd

14. Collaborative Review Group issues:

14.1 Title overlap:
Davina raised the problem of overlap of titles of new Cochrane Reviews, which was causing a great deal of stress to editorial teams: see item 17.1 below on the proposal for a Publications Ombudsman.

14.2 RGC/TSC meeting in Stavanger: Davina also raised the problem of the RGCs and TSCs being allocated several separate meeting slots during the Stavanger Colloquium, rather than a full day. Mike explained that the introductory day was not taking place this year, which was when the RGCs and TSCs had held their meeting in previous years. Group business meetings had replaced the contributed paper sessions this year, and these were the slots being made available for the RGCs' and TSCs' meeting. It had been impossible to timetable an entire day for the RGCs and TSCs to meet without this clashing with either the plenary sessions or the slots for workshops. Davina should advise the Colloquium Policy Advisory Group of the need for an all-day meeting for RGCs and TSCs, in order to ensure that hosts of future Colloquia make provision for it.
Action: Davina

15. Change of citation format for Cochrane Reviews for ISI indexing purposes
It was agreed to recommend that the citation format of Cochrane Reviews should be changed from 'The Cochrane Library' to 'The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews', in order to allow Cochrane Reviews to be indexed in ISI and, thereby, for The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews to obtain an impact factor. All entities should be informed of this, as well as the Cochrane Library Users' Group. It was noted that the way in which an impact factor is calculated means that if Cochrane Reviews are labelled 'substantive update' inappropriately, this will lead to a lower impact factor for the reviews than they should have. Mike agreed to ask all entities for feedback on this proposal, and, if approved, Mark Starr should be given the go-ahead as soon as possible to continue negotiating with ISI.
Action: Jim, Davina, Ruth, Mike

16. Updating of reviews
There was discussion as to what constitutes a substantive update of a Cochrane review, and how best to determine and advertise this. Issues include whether the update is substantive from the point of view of the work done or from the point of view of the end user. Mike advised that the Collaboration's current policy is that substantive updates are ones that are sufficient to recommend that previous readers of the review should look at the updated version. It was agreed that a review which is marked as an 'update' in The Cochrane Library should contain an adequate description of the reason for this in the 'What's New' section, to enable users to determine whether it is necessary for them to re-read the review. This will require expanding the guidelines on how to complete the 'What's New' section for inclusion in the Cochrane Reviewers' Handbook, and possible changes to the Help system in RevMan.
Action: Mike

17. Disagreements about Cochrane Reviews:

17.1 Editorial conflict between and within Collaborative Review Groups: Mike expanded on various possible solutions for coping with the conflict that can arise within and between Collaborative Review Groups in relation to Cochrane Reviews. It was agreed to recommend the establishment of a Publications Ombudsman to help deal with these conflicts, and that such a person should contribute appropriate expertise as and when required. Mike agreed to consult with entities about this. Another role for a Publications Ombudsman could be helping to resolve conflicts arising from overlap in registering titles for new Cochrane Reviews (see item 14.1 above).
Action: Mike

17.2 Lessons to be learnt from the mammographic screening review
: Davina outlined the lessons she thought had been learnt from this experience. These lessons would be very useful background for the proposed Publications Ombudsman (see item 17.1 above). It was agreed that the suggestion for a Publications Ombudsman was also in keeping with Peter Gøtzsche's opinions on the lessons to be learnt from the experience of the mammographic screening review.

  1. Code of conduct
    Peter explained that Tom Jefferson had contacted him, expressing his concerns about the behaviour of some Collaboration members, in particular in relation to the publication of the October 2001 BMJ article on the quality of Cochrane Reviews. In addition, Tom had written that this article had almost resulted in the loss of funding for his entity. Gerd reported that the Centre Directors had agreed to prepare a document for discussion in Stavanger on the need for Centre staff to behave responsibly in what they publish using the Collaboration's name. The working group established to prepare this document consists of Gerd, Peter Gøtzsche, Alessandro Liberati and Drummond Rennie. Mike agreed to ask the Methods Groups to discuss guidelines on the conduct and dissemination of research into the work of the Cochrane Collaboration that is done by participants in the Cochrane Collaboration, during their meetings in Stavanger. These guidelines should take account of the concerns of the Steering Group that criticism of the Cochrane Collaboration, or its members, should not be unnecessarily damaging to the work of the Collaboration.
    Action: Gerd, Mike
  2. Should all entity contact people be arbitrarily subscribed to CCInfo?
    It was agreed that it would not be advisable to force all entity contact people to subscribe to CCInfo as a means of preventing the need to send official notices to the relevant list(s) of entity contact people. However, entity representatives agreed to encourage the contact people in their constituent entities strongly to join the CCInfo e-mail discussion list, so as not to miss out on important information disseminated via that method alone.
    Action: Everyone
  3. Involvement by developing countries in the Cochrane Collaboration
    Youping Li advised that she would step down from being the Co-Convenor of the working group on developing countries at the Stavanger Colloquium, when she leaves the Steering Group, although she is still keen to remain involved in the group. (Xavier Bonfill of the Iberoamerican Cochrane Centre is her Co-Convenor.) Youping recommended that the Steering Group should always have two representatives from developing countries on this working group. People from developing countries should be involved in the whole process of preparing and maintaining Cochrane Reviews, including as end users, in mapping out the areas of health care where reviews are needed, consulting with consumers, and producing a target list of the reviews that need doing in developing countries: the challenge is to work out how to achieve these aims. Youping was asked to consult with the members of the working group and produce a draft remit for it to become a formal advisory group to the Steering Group, including a budget, for discussion at the next Steering Group meeting in Stavanger. The group would be expected to liaise with the Monitoring and Registration Group in identifying common themes for action. Youping also reported that she hoped to translate Gold Nuggets into Chinese twice a year. She also asked whether the Cochrane logo could be adapted for use in China, and she will send a request about this to the Publishing Policy Group.
    Action: Youping
  4. Strategy for forming alliances with international organisations
    It was agreed that discussion of this should be deferred until the next Steering Group meeting in Stavanger.
    Action: Jini
  5. Inclusion of information on adverse events in Cochrane Reviews
    It was re-affirmed that outcomes related to safety belong within Cochrane Reviews. Mike agreed to ask the submitters of this request to provide suggestions, through the relevant subgroup of the Non-randomised Studies Methods Group, on how to ensure that information on safety can be included in Cochrane Reviews in as unbiased a way as possible.
    Action: Mike
  6. Future of the French Cochrane Centre
    Mike informed the Steering Group of the current lack of funding for the French Cochrane Centre, which had necessitated its temporary closure. It was agreed that Peter would contact Jean-Pierre Boissel as soon as possible to clarify the duration of this closure. If it was indefinite or likely to be prolonged, Peter was asked to suggest to Jean-Pierre that the Centre should be de-registered so that other people who might be interested in meeting the needs of contributors in France and the other French-speaking countries for which the Centre has had responsibility could come forward. Peter will tell Jean-Pierre of the Canadian Cochrane Centre's offer of assistance to French-speaking contributors in Canada. Peter also agreed to ask Alessandro Liberati if enquiries from potential French-speaking contributors in Europe could be directed to the Italian Cochrane Centre in the interim.
    Action: Peter
  7. Steering Group meetings in Stavanger, Norway, 31 July and 3 August 2002
    It was agreed that the agenda for the next Steering Group meeting in Stavanger needed to be carefully organised to ensure that best use is made of the limited amount of time available. Consideration should be given to the Steering Group having longer mid-year meetings in future (see item 39.7).
    Action: Peter, Mike, Jim, Jini
  8. Format of the Cochrane Collaboration's Annual General Meetings
    Clarification should be sought from the hosts of the Stavanger Colloquium as to how much time has been allocated for the Annual General Meetings and the other events involving the Steering Group. The Executive should decide in their telephone conference on 21 May 2002 how to use this time, while fulfilling the legal obligations of the charity and the trading company. In the Annual General Meetings, entity representatives should be asked to sit at the front of the room to make it easier to establish their role in the meeting. An explanation should be given at the beginning of the meeting as to its purpose and structure. Questions will be requested in advance, so that the Steering Group can prepare for these and any other questions that it expects will be asked. In advance of these meetings, it should be made clear to entity representatives that it is their responsibility to circulate the Report and Financial Statements to their constituents and that they should request feedback on issues of interest or concern so that these can be raised during the Annual General Meetings. It was agreed that the separate plenary session during the Colloquium (3 August 2002) could be used for short presentations on the annual survey of activity within the Cochrane Collaboration and the revised Strategic Plan.
    Action: Jini
  9. Reports and budgets from Steering Group sub/advisory groups and liaisons:

    26.1 General availability of Advisory Group reports: It was agreed that the six-monthly reports to the Steering Group by its sub- and advisory groups should be made available within the Cochrane Collaboration. Mike volunteered to investigate the possibility of making these available on the Collaboration website. This decision, together with thanks for their reports, would be conveyed to all Advisory Groups.
    Action: Mike

    Monitoring and Registration Group: The Co-Convenors of this Group, Samuel and Ruth, spoke to this report, emphasizing that the heavy workload makes it difficult to perform as effectively as the members would wish; also, they have insufficient time to identify and correct any problems with the process. Peter expressed appreciation for the huge amount of work that the Group has accomplished in the past year, with support from Claire Allen. There has been some harsh criticism about this year's survey of activity within the Cochrane Collaboration because of the increased number of questions being asked of Collaborative Review Groups in particular. Ruth pointed out that these questions had been added in response to criticisms in 2001 that entities were not given adequate opportunity to provide qualitative, in addition to quantitative answers. Mike suggested that the next year could be used to assess and improve the process, and to act on the findings from this year's survey, instead of conducting another annual survey on the same scale as this year's. Ruth and Samuel agreed to discuss this suggestion at the meeting of the Monitoring and Registration Group in May 2002, so that recommendations could be made at the next meeting of the Steering Group in Stavanger.
    Action: Ruth, Samuel

    CENTRAL/CCTR Advisory Group: Davina was asked to request that the Group provide the Executive with an estimate for the cost of temporary storage of old handsearch results at the New England Cochrane Center in Providence, for discussion at the Executive's telephone conference on 21 May 2002. It was agreed that the Group should present two proposals for funding to the next meeting of the Steering Group in Stavanger: a retrospective project to rectify problems within CENTRAL, and a budget for the ongoing operational costs of CENTRAL that cannot be met with funds currently available to the New England Cochrane Center.
    Action: Davina

    Cochrane Library Users' Group: The requested budget was approved.

    Colloquium Policy Advisory Group: The recommendations not to centralise the financial administration of the Thomas C Chalmers MD Award and the Kenneth Warren Prize were approved; it was agreed to approve the setting up of standing committees to administer the disbursement of these funds. Two Steering Group members should be on the local organising committee of each Colloquium, to ensure adequate liaison: members should be selected who will not have left the Steering Group before the relevant Colloquium. David and Silvana agreed to do this for the Ottawa Colloquium. Jini was asked to let the organisers of the Barcelona Colloquium in 2003 know that Samuel and Vittorio were willing to be on their local organising committee, and to advise Sally Green of this new decision in relation to the proposed Melbourne Colloquium of 2005. The question of whether central funds should be made available to future Colloquia organisers was referred to the Centre Directors for advice. The Group's requested budget was approved.
    Action: David H-S, Silvana; Jini; Gerd

    26.5.1 Consumer stipends: The Steering Group felt that there should be a standing committee for consumer stipends, and that the Colloquium Policy Advisory Group should be encouraged to discuss establishing one. Both Consumer Network representatives on the Steering Group should be members of such a committee.
    Subject to the amendment of the relevant sections of the draft document entitled 'Consumer Stipends for Colloquia', it was approved. The CPAG should be asked for advice as to how members of each year's stipends committee could be funded to attend the Colloquium themselves (because membership of this committee makes them ineligible for these stipends).
    Action: Mike

    26.5.2 Standard operating procedures for Colloquia: It was agreed that the priority for action by the CPAG was the development of a list of things that Colloquium organisers need to bear in mind when organising the Colloquium (for example, how to decide on the registration fee; when and how to seek sponsorship; how and when to set the dates for abstracts, stipend applications and early/late registration; which are the key meetings that need to be scheduled into the main programme). Such a list of standard operating procedures should prove very helpful to the organisers of future Colloquia. Kathie agreed to convey these decisions to the CPAG.
    Action: Kathie

    Criticism Management Advisory Group: The Group should be asked to clarify whether their comment that it would be preferable to change the name of the Group to 'Feedback Management Advisory Group' was a formal request to change their name. If so they should be asked to identify places within the Collaboration where the word 'Criticism' would need to be replaced with 'Feedback', to enable the Steering Group to consider the implications of approving this change of name.
    Action: David H-S

    Handbook Advisory Group: The following four recommendations were approved, and Mike was asked to include relevant guidance in the Cochrane Reviewers' Handbook:
    (i) Withdrawn protocols: A withdrawal notice should be published within CDSR for one issue of The Cochrane Library. Thereafter, the withdrawal of the protocol would be noted in the CRG's module; (ii) Suspension of reviews that have become too out-of-date, are known to contain serious errors, or are suspended while they go through the editorial process of a new group: A suspension notice should be included in the Published Notes section; (iii) Withdrawal of reviews that have been merged with other reviews: A notice should be included in the Published Notes section of the review that has been withdrawn; and (iv) Splitting of reviews: One of the reviews should retain the unique identifier for the original review.
    The Steering Group endorsed the suggested principles governing the availability of the flexible learning material produced by Phil Alderson and Sally Green, but asked that it should be stated that it should be made available on a cost recovery basis (rather than completely free of charge). Mike was asked to thank Phil and Sally for all their hard work in producing this valuable material.
    Action: Mike

    Information Management System Group: The Steering Group approved the recommendation that reviewers should be allowed to include additional figures in Cochrane Reviews; it also approved the recommendation of the Technical Implementation Advisory Group that open standards with good data compression be used. The requested budget was approved.

    Quality Advisory Group: The Steering Group requested that there should be a repository of all the material accumulating on the quality of reviews, and Nancy referred to her current work with Philippa Middleton on a joint mapping project that will meet this request. The requested budget was approved.

    Cochrane-Campbell liaison: The contents of the paper by Lisa Bero, liaison between the Cochrane and Campbell Collaborations, were noted and appreciated.

    26.11 Other reports: It was agreed to include reports from the Funders' Forum and the Publishing Policy Group with the agendas of meetings of the Steering Group in the future.
    Action: Jini
  10. Advice for dealing with the media
    Mike advised that this draft document was subject to regular revision. Any comments on its content should be sent to him. He will circulate a revised document to the Steering Group when it is ready.
    Action: Mike
  11. Conflicts of interest:

    28.1 Conflicts of interest and the Cochrane Collaboration
    : The contents of Hilda Bastian's papers on conflict of interest and membership of the Steering Group and its sub- and advisory groups were noted and appreciated. It was agreed that each Steering Group meeting should begin with an explicit statement of any relevant conflicts of interest by each member, and that these should be included in the minutes. This would be piloted at the next meeting of the Steering Group in Stavanger and, if judged to be workable, would be recommended to all sub- and advisory groups. As an example, Jini will circulate by e-mail to the Steering Group the relevant item in the minutes of the Information Management System Group, which already begins each meeting in this way.
    Action: Jini

    28.2 Conflicts of interest in commercial sponsorship of Cochrane Reviews: It was agreed that the person or institution that originally devised the question for a Cochrane Review should be noted within the review. This was felt to be particularly important for reviews that had funding from the pharmaceutical industry. It was agreed that the right of reviewers to publish their Cochrane Review regardless of the opinion of the funder of that review should be written into the policy on conflicts of interest. It was agreed that the current policy that a Cochrane Review must not be funded solely from a single source with a vested interested in the review should be restated.
    Action: Mike

28.3 Policy on conflicts of interest: Samuel and Silvana agreed to revise the draft document from the Consumer Network on the sponsorship of Cochrane Reviews to take account of the other documents on this issue which had been sent to the Steering Group (by Hilda Bastian; by Frans Helmerhorst, Clive Adams, Christian Gluud and Phil Wiffen; and by the Editors of the Infectious Diseases Group). The revised document should be circulated widely within the Collaboration for consultation. The entity representatives on the Steering Group will collate the feedback and forward it to the authors for consideration, so that this can be discussed at the next Steering Group meeting in Stavanger.
Action: Samuel, Silvana, Everyone

29. Consumer health information system

Peter was asked to thank Hilda Bastian for producing this informative document describing the current status of the consumer health information system.
Action: Peter

30. Agreements with pharmaceutical companies about release of data
The information provided by Steve Milan of the Airways Group, concerning existing agreements with pharmaceutical companies about release of data, was noted. It was agreed that the Collaboration would welcome closer working relationships with industry about release of data.

  1. Responsibilities of the Steering Group Chair and members, Treasurer and Company Secretary

    31.1 Responsibilities of Steering Group members:
    The responsibility to consult with and report back to their constituents, and to attend all Steering Group meetings, should be added to the list of responsibilities of Steering Group members, as should a statement about ensuring appropriate handover from outgoing to incoming Steering Group members. This list of responsibilities, together with those of the Chair, the Treasurer and the Company Secretary, should be added to the document 'The structure, remit and membership of groups accountable to the Steering Group' which is held on the Collaboration website (
    Action: Jini

    31.2 Entity representatives communicating with their constituents: The necessity for representatives on the Steering Group to be able to communicate directly with their constituents was emphasized, in order to allow them to consult with and report back to them quickly and efficiently. Samuel and Silvana have experienced difficulties in achieving direct access to their constituents in the Cochrane Consumer Network, and it was agreed that, because the Consumer Network has a responsibility to support its representatives on the Steering Group, Samuel and Silvana should ask the Network for assistance in this regard.
    Action: Samuel, Silvana

    31.3 Steering Group members' attendance at Steering Group meetings: It was re-affirmed that members of the Steering Group should attend all its meetings, so that their constituents are represented adequately. It was agreed that the Chair should contact any member of the Steering Group who is unable to attend two meetings, to discuss whether she/he feels able to continue as a member.
    Action: Peter
  2. Electoral process: are any changes needed?
    In view of the low response rate to the canvas of opinion about the current process for electing people to the Steering Group, it had been agreed previously that no changes should be implemented for the current elections. It was agreed, therefore, that discussion of Davina's document could be deferred until the next meeting of the Steering Group in Stavanger when actions, if any, in relation to the 2003 election could be discussed.
    Action: Davina
  3. History of the Cochrane Collaboration
    Peter agreed to ask Iain Chalmers for advice on the most appropriate and efficient way of documenting the early history of the organisation.
    Action: Peter
  4. Venue for mid-year meetings of Centre Directors and Steering Group

    34.1 Criteria for deciding on venue for mid-year meetings:
    Mike spoke to the document suggesting criteria upon which to decide the venue for these meetings, and Gerd provided feedback from the Centre Directors' discussion about this at their meeting on 7-8 April 2002. The criteria were approved and, after Gerd has confirmed that the Centre Directors also approve them, they should be added to The Cochrane Manual.
    Action: Gerd, Jini

    34.2 Offer to host the 2003 meetings: The offer of the Australasian Cochrane Centre to host the mid-year meetings in 2003 in Melbourne was welcomed and accepted. David explained that the timing of this meeting could be very important in helping to secure future funding for Cochrane activities in Australasia. The meeting would likely take place some time in February or March 2003, and David agreed to ask Sally Green to consult with both the Centre Directors and the Steering Group as to the suitability of the exact dates.
    Action: David H-S

    34.3 Mid-year meetings in 2004 and 2005: Gerd was asked to request that Alessandro Liberati and Kay Dickersin provide a one-page document for the next meeting of the Steering Group in Stavanger, to formalise their offers to host the mid-year meetings in Milan or Rome in 2004, and in Providence in 2005, respectively.
    Action: Gerd
  5. Offer to host 2005 Colloquium in Melbourne
    The formal offer of the Australasian Cochrane Centre to host the Colloquium in 2005 was welcomed and accepted. David H-S was asked to thank Sally Green for this offer.
    Action: David H-S
  6. Participation of women in the Cochrane Collaboration
    Jini was asked to pass on to Hilda Bastian the Steering Group's recommendation that the members of the proposed working group on this issue should be encouraged to meet and, subsequently, to advise the Steering Group of their recommendations.
    Action: Jini
  7. Usefulness of spreadsheet of Steering Group members' outstanding action items
    Discussion of this item was deferred to the next meeting of the Steering Group in Stavanger, due to shortage of time.
    Action: Jini
  8. Thanks to the host
    Peter thanked Youping, all the staff of the Chinese Cochrane Centre, and all the volunteers for their wonderful hospitality to the visitors to Chengdu. Youping reciprocated the thanks for valuable input and unselfish help for the 2nd Asian-Pacific Conference on Evidence-Based Medicine. The feedback from the participants in the Conferece had been very positive, but people had not liked the day being split up into four streams because they had had to miss things. They had asked for the event to take place over four days next time instead of two.
  9. Any other business:

    39.1 Replacing Chris Silagy as Ombudsman: Mike advised that Peter Langhorne had been asked to take on this role when he steps down as Chair of the Steering Group in August 2002, and he had agreed to do so. Gill Gyte continues as the other Ombudsman.

    39.2 Cochrane Consumer Network: Peter briefly outlined the fact that a conflict had arisen within the Consumer Network. He had suggested that the Network involve the Australasian Cochrane Centre (i.e. their reference Cochrane Centre) in trying to resolve this, and if that did not resolve the conflict satisfactorily, the matter should then be referred to the Steering Group. As a separate matter, the Australasian Cochrane Centre will also enquire into issues that have been raised relating to the governance of the Consumer Network. The Australasian Cochrane Centre is already in contact with the Consumer Network through its role as their reference Cochrane Centre.

    39.3 Request from the Trading Company Directors: Mike reported that he had recently received a letter from the Trading Company Directors relating to their relationship to the Steering Group, but that there had been insufficient time to circulate this in advance of the Steering Group meeting. Jini was asked to circulate a copy of the letter to the Steering Group by the end of April 2002, so that it can be discussed by e-mail.
    Action: Jini

    39.4 Interviewing the Steering Group: It had been suggested that, because the Steering Group is a Cochrane entity, it should be 'visited' by Nancy Owens as part of her work as Quality Improvement Manager. Nancy agreed to interview members of the Steering Group as available.
    Action: Nancy

    39.5 Request from some CRG editorial base staff: A request had been received by the Secretariat just before the Steering Group meeting in Chengdu, signed by fourteen members of the staff of CRG editorial bases during or since the UK Cochrane Contributors' Meeting in Oxford in March 2002, requesting action on an integrated Information Management System. As the people who signed the request are all based in the UK, it was agreed that the UK Cochrane Centre should be requested to ask the people who had signed it if they felt there was a problem with the current routes for communicating with the Steering Group. It was also agreed that they should be told that the subject of their note had already been discussed in the Steering Group meeting, but not as a direct reaction to the note itself.
    Action: Mike

    39.6 Communicating important decisions to entities
    : Mike undertook to prepare details of the main decisions reached by the Steering Group at this meeting which should be communicated to entities. He asked entity representatives to wait until he had done this before communicating themselves with their constituencies. He undertook to do this while the draft minutes were being prepared, and to circulate the details as quickly as possible.
    Action: Mike

    39.7 Length of Steering Group meetings:
    There was discussion as to whether two and a half (rather than two) days are needed for mid-year Steering Group meetings in future in order to give adequate consideration to all the items on the agenda. David H-S agreed to advise Sally Green at the Australasian Cochrane Centre that this might be necessary for the mid-year Steering Group meeting in Melbourne in 2003.
    Action: David H-S