Editor in Chief & Interim CEO update: 15 October 2021

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Dear Cochrane friends and colleagues,

We hope this email finds you well and safe.

We wanted to thank the co-chairs, presenters, roundtable participants, and attendees that joined us for the inaugural Cochrane Convenes. Yesterday’s open plenary session featured a diverse array of speakers offering keen insights and sharing recommendations from the conversations held with multidisciplinary experts for the event. Read about the event and watch the welcome message from WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on the Cochrane Convenes website. Recordings from the event will be posted in the coming days, and the report with the recommendations from the event will be shared later in November. We are grateful to our co-sponsors from WHO and co-organizers from COVID-END for their support in preparing this excellent international gathering.

Organizational and editorial updates

Elections to the Cochrane Governing Board: Invitation to stand for election. Five places on the Board are open for election, and you are invited to stand. In particular, one place is being held for a Cochrane member who is 30 years or younger. Nominations are open until 24 October; watch short videos about the election and learn more.

Join Cochrane’s Annual General Meeting. Held on Wednesday, 27th October, Cochrane’s 2021 AGM will feature presentations from Cochrane’s Trustees and members of senior leadership about the management, finances, and strategic priorities of the organization. You can ask questions on these topics, and you can vote on certain aspects concerning the management of the charity. Register today

The future of evidence synthesis in Cochrane: 

  • Community Engagement Workshop Series. If you have missed the first workshops in this series, recordings from the first four workshops and breakout group feedback from the first three workshops have now been posted on the Workshop Series site. Registrations are still open for the final three workshops in the series, focused on different aspects of Evidence Synthesis Units and the Central Editorial Service and publishing; sign up today
  • Future Cochrane site. You can explore a potential model for evidence synthesis activities in Cochrane on the Future Cochrane site, and provide your feedback on the model via a survey there. Learn more and provide your input by 31 October.

2021 Prizes and Awards. As you know, every year Cochrane awards members of its global Community with a range of prizes that highlight high-quality methodological research through to supporting health decision-making in developing countries, and contributors who have made a significant contribution to the organization. Despite the cancellation of our annual Colloquia this year, we are still welcoming nominations for the following awards until Sunday 31st October. If you wish to nominate a Group colleague or Cochrane member, you can find out more here.

Join the Conversation. If you missed the October webinar sessions on research integrity, you can now view the recordings from these sessions. Thank you to all of our excellent presenters. 

With our best wishes,

Karla Soares-Weiser
Editor in Chief, Cochrane Library

Judith Brodie
Interim CEO

October 15, 2021

Cochrane launches new focus on diversity and inclusion

diverse group of people

Cochrane wants to welcome people, no matter who they are or where they live. The more varied perspectives we have, the better we can provide evidence to help inform health and healthcare decisions.
We have contributors, supporters and members from all over the world, but we know very little about our community and what is important to you. This is an opportunity to learn from our community and hear your ideas about how Cochrane can become a more diverse and inclusive organisation.
We’ve launched a survey and are also running small online meetings. You can take part by:

  1. completing the short survey here now.  It only takes a few minutes. You don’t need to give your name
  2. AND letting us know if you are interested in attending a small group meeting to talk about your experiences of diversity and inclusion in Cochrane. If you are interested sign up here to stay informed.

We want to hear from you whether you are involved a lot in Cochrane or not much at all.  Your feedback will help to create a Diversity and Inclusion Strategy in 2022.
Chris Champion, Head of People Services, says “Cochrane is a worldwide organisation that aspires to be diverse and inclusive. We want everyone to be able to participate in Cochrane, regardless of who they are and where they come from. This matters to Cochrane, because if we are more inclusive, we will be able to provide better and more relevant evidence to our users who are at the heart of our vision.”
If you want to know more about this work then please contact Chris Champion, cchampion@cochrane.org

October 15, 2021

Survey round-up

Survey round-up

A round-up of active surveys submitted by Cochrane contributors, colleagues, and partners seeking input from the Cochrane Community - updated through the month. 




Feedback on Early Career Professional (ECP) Cochrane Groups' activities and events
General information: A brief survey to collect feedback about the events of our Cochrane ECP Group and suggestions for future activities. The collected information will be anonymous. Your feedback will be collated by the ECP steering group and used to inform any changes to current events and decide on what improvements should be made.
Who is running the survey: Early Career Professionals Cochrane Group
Who should take the survey: All early career professionals in the Cochrane Community; you don't have to have attended a Cochrane ECP event to offer feedback. 
Links: https://s.surveyplanet.com/qCaQSTIkd


The future of evidence synthesis in Cochrane
General information:
This survey seeks your feedback on the proposed model and our approach to current critical challenges.
Who is running the survey: Cochrane central editorial team.
Who should take the survey:  Everyone involved in Cochrane work.
Closing date: 31 October 2021
Links:  https://www.futurecochrane.space/


Are you as involved in Cochrane as you want to be?
General information: Cochrane wants to celebrate our community. We want to learn more about the people who make up our community and what we can do to help you feel part of Cochrane. Your feedback will help us plan what to do next.
Who is running the survey: Cochrane, People Services
Who should take the survey: We want to hear from you whether you are involved a lot in Cochrane or not much at all.  
Links: https://community.cochrane.org/news/cochrane-launches-new-focus-diversity-and-inclusion 


If you would like to add your survey, please review our survey and consultations policy and provide the following information to Lydia Parsonson (lparsonson@cochrane.org)

General information: 1-2 sentences explaining what the survey is about
Who is running the survey:
Who should take the survey: e.g. guideline developers, researchers, users, Cochrane authors
Closing date:

October 15, 2021

Cochrane Evidence Essentials – now available in Russian!

russian evidence essentials page

Cochrane is delighted to announce the launch of Cochrane Evidence Essentials modules in Russian

Cochrane Evidence Essentials is an introduction to evidence-based medicine (EBM), clinical trials and Cochrane evidence. It was originally designed for healthcare consumers (patients, care givers, family members), policy makers, and members of the healthcare team. In its original language – English – Cochrane Evidence Essentials proved to be especially valuable to the growing English-speaking community of patients, carers, and family members who work alongside researchers to co-create Cochrane evidence.

Cochrane is delighted to announce the launch of Cochrane Evidence Essentials modules in Russian.

Professor Liliya Eugenevna Ziganshina, Director of Cochrane Russia, commented on the launch of the modules in Russian language:

“At Cochrane Russia we are delighted and privileged to contribute to the translation of Cochrane Evidence Essentials. This was exciting work, involving language, methodology, and clinical expertise. Producing Cochrane Evidence Essentials in Russian was initially begun by a resident in surgery from the Far East of Russia, Rouslan Zhasybaev, of the Far East State Medical University. Rouslan translated some of the major concepts into Russian in a form of Powerpoint presentation, and came to Cochrane Russia for advice with many concepts. This proved to be neither simple nor straightforward for understanding and translation! With Russian Translations Manager, Ekaterina V. Yudina, we delved into the project and it became not only a fascinating experience, but, importantly, an empowering exercise for all of those involved! It became one of the key components of Cochrane Russia Knowledge Translation.

We believe that Cochrane Evidence Essentials in Russian will become a wonderful and unique educational resource for all residents, PhD students, and researchers interested in evidence based medicine (EBM). Cochrane Evidence Essentials in Russian will give them a fascinating learning opportunity and equip them with essential set of skills and knowledge base for evidence-based research in health for clinical, research, teaching, and personal development.

Liliya Eugenevna Ziganshina, Director of Cochrane Russia


This becomes even more important in the current Russian EBM environment, with growing recognition and respect for Cochrane and increased uptake of Cochrane review Plain language summaries, translated into Russian.

We hope that the Russian version of Cochrane Evidence Essentials will contribute to better training in EBM in Russia, promoting improved understanding and use of Cochrane Reviews in clinical decision-making, training, and research all over Russia and beyond.”

Cochrane Evidence Essentials includes four free online learning modules, presented in the form of a story. The learning is interactive, with things to read, watch, and listen to; quizzes; and ways to check your learning. There are links to further resources for those who wish to continue learning about a particular topic.

The modules have been co-produced by healthcare consumers and researchers, with the support of Cochrane’s Central Executive Team.

October 12, 2021

Council Author Representative election results

Community Vote stock photo

Dear Cochrane Members,

Thank you for voting in the recent Cochrane Council elections!

Agustín Ciapponi has been re-elected for an additional three-year term as an Author representative on the Cochrane Council. Agustín is an author on over 20 Cochrane Reviews and is based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He will continue his work alongside fellow author representative Vanessa Jordan.

Augstin Ciapponi

Thank you to all the candidates who stood in these elections. The vote count for the Council election is available upon request by email to elections@cochrane.org.

Best wishes,

Cochrane Governance & Strategy Unit

September 23, 2021

Catherine Marshall re-appointed Co-Chair of the Governing Board

Catherine Marshall re-appointed Co-Chair of the Governing Board

The Governing Board voted unanimously to re-appoint Catherine Marshall for a second term as Co-Chair from September  2021 until September 2023. Catherine will continue to work alongside fellow Co-Chair, Tracey Howe.
The Governing Board is responsible for setting Cochrane's strategic direction and overseeing the work of the Chief Executive Officer, Editor in Chief, and Central Executive Team, which leads, coordinates and supports all the operational work across Cochrane Groups to deliver the organization's strategic goals.

Outside Cochrane, Catherine is a Health Sector consultant based in New Zealand specialising in policy, evidence-based healthcare, consumer engagement guideline development and implementation. She is currently Co-Chair of the Partnership Advisory Group with the Guidelines International Network (G-I-N) and is an Honorary Patron of G-IN  and previously Vice Chair of G-I-N's board of trustees for 9 years.

Catherine has a long history in guideline development and was  the inaugural Chief Executive of the New Zealand Guidelines Group, which often relied on evidence from the Cochrane Library. Catherine is also a prominent health consumer advocate, working on the development of health consumer legislation in New Zealand and as a former member of the NZ Stronger Consumer Voices Alliance and the NZ Health and Disability Non-Government Organisation Council. In 2018, she helped organize and participate in the consumer programs for the Cochrane Colloquium in Edinburgh. She is currently Co-Chair of the wellington Free Ambulance Consumer Council
Of her appointment, Catherine says, “I continue to be been deeply impressed by the strength of Cochrane and the talent of the people who contribute to the collaboration. The work of the Collaboration during the pandemic has been phenomenal - and it has been wonderful to see our work applied and valued during a time of global emergency. I am strongly committed to continuing to building a vibrant and trusted organisation that will have a strong future, expanding our reach around the globe and finding new ways Cochrane advice can inform health decisions.”

August 24, 2021

Stay connected with the Cochrane Methods Network! Sign up for the brand-new newsletter

People at table talking

Earlier this year we announced the launch of the Cochrane Methods Network, which brings together researchers, methodologists and others with an interest in methodology for evidence synthesis.

The Methods Network now brings you a bimonthly newsletter which will share news of methods-related events, developments and opportunities across Cochrane's every-growing and unrivalled methods community. Each newsletter contains:

  • Top methods-related highlights from across Cochrane
  • Upcoming events or opportunities for you to get involved
  • New resources from Cochrane, such as online learning modules, developments to Cochrane Handbooks and other training materials
  • Chance to get to know those who lead Cochrane Methods Groups

See our first ever newsletter from August 2021 here.

Stay connected with Cochrane Methods Network by setting up your Cochrane account and signing up for the Cochrane Methods Network newsletter directly to your inbox (via the Communications tab)! You can also join the Cochrane Methods Network by completing this webform.

August 19, 2021

Tackling methodological challenges in public health reviews

People of the earth stock illustration

The Cochrane Methods team has defined a programme of work to improve the quality and impact of Cochrane reviews in public health with the support of the Methods Executive, Methods Groups and Public Health and Health Systems Network. The programme has been designed to foster collaboration between Methods Groups and Cochrane Review Group (CRG) Networks and to support the ongoing response to COVID-19. It focuses on producing high-priority public health reviews and delivering user-friendly resources to improve the planning, conduct and reporting of methods within them.

Why focus on public health?
Public health reviews, especially those relating to COVID-19, are often highly scrutinised and have wide-ranging impacts on policy and global health outcomes. However, public health reviews typically address complex questions and use a range of complex methods that are considered non-standard in Cochrane, and existing guidance is not always being applied accurately or consistently. In the Cochrane context, public health reviews are defined as those that include diverse sources of evidence (e.g., not solely RCTs), complex interventions that are delivered at the population level (e.g., policies rather than drugs or treatments), exposures that cannot be delivered in randomized controlled trials (e.g. studying the effects of a chemical or viral exposure), and outcomes that measure something other than efficacy (e.g., harms, process outcomes, implementation or costs).

How will the programme support review production?
The programme of work is based on the premise that high-quality, timely review production requires expert methodological support and pragmatic resources that help authors and editors translate Handbook guidance into practice. The topics and approach have been designed to bring CRGs and Methods Groups together to ensure the projects and their outputs are designed with the needs of Cochrane editors and authors in mind.

Though the focus is on public health reviews, the challenges faced within them are often encountered in other topic areas, such as choosing when and how to include non-randomised studies of interventions, assessing bias in non-randomized studies of interventions, planning a useful synthesis in light of complexity and heterogeneity, incorporating qualitative evidence, and reporting results when a meta-analysis has not been possible. By tackling the challenges in a COVID-priority area, the aim will be to develop, adapt and apply the tools more widely across Cochrane. The Methods Support Unit plays an important role in bridging the gap between CRGs and Methods Groups and will be embedded in the projects to support capacity-building.

high-quality, timely review production requires expert methodological support and pragmatic resources that help authors and editors translate Handbook guidance into practice

What has happened so far?
The Cochrane Methods team mapped the most frequently cited challenges from two recent methods surveys of CRGs by methodological area and listed possible projects to address them. The projects were then shortlisted considering extent of author and CRG need, potential for impact, and the anticipated time and resources required to deliver a useful output. The projects have been refined with Cochrane’s Methods Executive and project teams are now being brought together. Each has been designed to deliver a practical tool or decision aid for editors or authors by the end of 2021 that harnesses existing theory so that it can be more easily applied.

  • Project 1: Preferred and accepted risk of bias tools for assessing bias in non-randomised studies of interventions
  • Project 2: Practical guidance to frame public health intervention review questions, define outcomes and choose appropriate study designs
  • Project 3: Standard terminology to help authors describe different study designs appropriately and consistently
  • Project 4: Practical conduct and reporting guidance for assessing risk of bias in non-randomised studies of interventions and/or ROBINS-I
  • Project 5: Practical tools to implement SWiM reporting guidance to improve pre-specification and presentation of findings

In addition to the projects, plans are underway to deliver a suite of learning resources around qualitative evidence synthesis, and to house a bank of exemplar reviews showcasing best practice. A Methods Symposium will also take place in October 2021 covering a range of methodological challenges relating to public health reviews and complex interventions. The symposium will be followed by a methods implementation surgery led by the Methods Support Unit and aimed at CRGs in November 2021 to discuss the outputs that were developed and how they can support editors and authors.

Those interested in getting involved are encouraged to create a Task Exchange profile or contact the Methods Team to enquire about other ways to contribute

How can I get involved?
Each project will be encouraged to use Task Exchange to call for volunteers across the community to provide feedback on the first draft of the tools and resources being developed. Those interested in getting involved are encouraged to create a profile or contact the Methods Team directly to enquire about other ways to contribute.

Additional resources:

July 23, 2021

RevMan calculator developed to improve data entry, transformation and transparency

RevMan calculator developed to improve data entry, transformation and transparency

New functionality is now available in RevMan Web extending the number of ways data can be inputted when raw data from study reports does not match the format required for meta-analysis. Data entered into the calculator will also now be saved along with the calculated output, which will allow authors to better document how raw data have been transformed to support verification, transparency, and updating. Analyses will show a tick under a calculator icon to indicate where calculations were required.

The Knowledge Base has been updated with information about how to use the new functionality, the types of transformation that are now supported, and actions that authors should be aware of that could result in saved data being lost.

Feedback about the calculator functionality is welcome and should be directed to support@cochrane.org.


July 23, 2021

Improving the quality, consistency, and translatability of Cochrane Plain language summaries (PLSs): Interview with the PLS Project Manager

Laptop on green background

The Plain Language Summary Project, which began in May 2020 to see whether a team of professional writers could improve the quality, consistency, and translatability of Cochrane PLSs, has now ended. The project was undertaken with the support of Central Executive Team staff and a number of Cochrane Review Groups (CRGs), and support from our language translation teams and Cochrane Consumers.

Elizabeth Royle, Plain Language Summary Project Manager and Cochrane Copy Editing Manager, spoke to Katie Abbotts from the Knowledge Translations Department about this project.

What was the motivation behind this project?
Although Cochrane has published Plain language summaries (PLSs) for all reviews for around 20 years now, their quality has been variable, with some PLSs being too complicated, technical and inaccessible to people who were not medically trained.  Since PLSs should be able to be understood by as broad a range of people as possible, from different countries and with different levels of education, it was decided that we should try to improve the situation.

What was the overall aim?
There were three main aims, which were to make PLSs easier to read, understand, and translate into languages other than English.

Why is the PLS so important to Cochrane and as part of Cochrane Reviews?
PLSs distill down the most important points of reviews.  They form the basis of many other products used for dissemination of findings, for example, press releases, blog shots and infographics. They provide a foundation on which other endeavours rely.

What happened in the project?
We employed three professional writers to see whether having dedicated specialists in plain language would improve the standard of the PLSs Cochrane published.  The writers wrote the PLSs for all reviews and updates published through the Central Editorial Service and the MOSS (Musculoskeletal, Oral, Skin and Sensory) and PHHS (Public Health & Health Systems) networks, plus one or two from another 21 Review Groups.  During the year for which the project ran, the writers produced PLSs for 166 reviews and updates from a total of 35 Review Groups.


What have you learned?
Over 450 people provided input for evaluation of the project.  They expressed a strong preference for:

  • a standardised format for PLSs
  • phrasing headings as questions
  • putting the same headings in the same order across all PLSs
  • having a ‘Key messages’ section at the start of PLSs

The Review Groups told us that having access to PLS writers was a tremendous help, and something that they would value highly if it were to continue.

How might PLS writing develop going forward?
The writers have developed a template for writing PLSs, and guidance to support people writing PLSs.  The template and guidance are currently being user tested (until 31 August 2021).  Once the testing is complete, and feedback considered, these documents will be finalised. We will then request approval from the Editorial Board to deploy their use across Cochrane.

At present, we do not know whether Cochrane will be able to employ people to write PLSs beyond the duration of this project.

July 21, 2021
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