Getting involved as a Review Author
If you have expertise in some aspect of healthcare, consider joining the relevant Cochrane Review Group. If there is not yet a group which covers your specialty, register your interest in being part of a new group. Being part of a Cochrane review group provides the support, resources and training to tackle a systematic review, and an international audience when your work is published in The Cochrane Library.
The following links contain information we feel will be useful for new reviewers and current reviewers:
The following links are provided by the Cochrane Collaboration and will be of use to authors:
- Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions - the official guide to producing Cochrane reviews
- RevMan web page - documentation and support for software for preparing and maintaining Cochrane reviews
- GRADEpro - (GRADEprofiler) is the software used to create Summary of Findings (SoF) tables in Cochrane systematic reviews
- Cochrane Style Resource - compare your Cochrane Review against the official style guide
- Re-publishing of reviews - guidance on co-publication can be found in the Cochrane policy manual: Publication of versions of Cochrane Reviews in print journals
- Reporting Guidelines
CONSORT - reporting of RCTs
PRISMA (formerly QUOROM) [PDF document] - preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses
STROBE - reporting of observational studies in epidemiology
EQUATOR Network - collection of reporting guidelines
- Cochrane Diagnostic Test Accuracy Group
- Submission Deadlines - includes information on deadlines for Copy Edit Support and module/CENTRAL submissions, as well as publication dates for The Cochrane Library
Training - face-to-face
Training - online
- Open Learning Materials - learn the steps in convenient online modules which supplement the Cochrane Reviewers' Handbook in helping you gain skills and complete your review.
Training resources provided by other organizations:
- Undertaking Systematic Reviews of Research on Effectiveness - an extensive guide by the NHS Centre for Reviews & Dissemination
Methods used in reviews
Access to specialised register by authors
Access to the specialised register of gynaecological cancers may be obtained by searching CENTRAL for "SR-GYNAECA".
Additional search strategies
Authors are strongly advised to:
1) Search for additional trials in the citations of each trial report relevant to their review topics
2) Write to the authors of all trials and/or reviews relevant to their review topic to request information on any similar trials of which they may be aware, and which remain unpublished, or as yet are not in CENTRAL
3) Write to pharmaceutical companies (if appropriate) to request information on pharmaceutical company trials.
Authors are generally advised to include only controlled trials and randomized controlled trials (RCTs).
The CGCCRG recommends that the selection of studies for inclusion in a review is carried out independently by at least two authors and that any differences are resolved by discussion. Differences that are not resolved by discussion between the authors of a review should be brought to the attention of a third party and a majority decision taken.
For each included study data extraction should be carried out by more than one person, with differences resolved by discussion, or if that is not possible, by intervention of the editor responsible. Where appropriate, kappa scores should be calculated for agreement between data extractors. Authors are strongly advised to contact the author(s) of the primary research to verify the data and to provide further data where the report is incomplete. Where this is not possible, it should be stated in the text of the review.
Where the results of an RCT have not been published, but the author has satisfied himself/herself as to the quality of the data, that data should be collected. It should be stated in the discussion section of the review which of the data are from unpublished trials.
Authors should gather information on rare adverse events and long-term complications. RCTs may not always be the best source of such information.
Where possible, meta-analytic techniques should be used. The statistical methods employed should be decided on in discussion with a statistician experienced in meta-analysis. When statistical methods are used to combine studies the methods should be stated in the protocol for the review. Where heterogeneity exists the advice of a statistician should be sought, and where appropriate, sensitivity and other analyses should be performed.
Analyses not specified a priori in the protocol should be identified in the review. Where confidence intervals are used these are usually 95% CI for individual results and 99% for pooled estimates.
Help in finding statistical advice may be sought from the editorial base.
Reporting of reviews
Reviews will normally comment on the strength and applicability of the results. Where possible authors will include data on the potential harms and benefits of the intervention as well as costs if they are available. Such data may include non-RCT derived data (e.g. rare adverse events).
Authors should declare any conflict of interest in the appropriate section of the review.
All titles should be registered with the editorial base in writing on the form provided giving information on the background, objectives, criteria for included studies and a target date for completion of the review. The Managing Editor will inform the editors of the group, and once accepted, will add to the list on the Cochrane Titles Management program. Where two authors notify the editorial base at the same time it will be the responsibility of the Co-ordinating Editor to find a mutually agreed/agreeable solution.
All potential authors of a review should notify the editorial base of their interest in the review to avoid conflict over authorship. Where there are disputes about authorship these should be brought to the Managing Editor in the first instance. If these cannot be resolved, or they involve the Managing Editor, the matter should be referred to the Publication Ombudsman of the Cochrane Collaboration.
If a fortnight after the title has been distributed via the Titles Management System, the Group has not been alerted to any potential overlap with Cochrane reviews already being carried out, the author(s) will be advised that he/she may proceed, and a contact editor assigned to the review.
Authors preparing protocols are strongly encouraged to attend a protocol development workshop organised by their reference Cochrane Centre.
It is expected that a first draft of the protocol will be submitted to the editorial base within six months, but no more than one year of the acceptance of the title. After one year, if no protocol has been received, a title will be removed from the Registered Titles list and be offered to an alternative reviewer. Under special circumstances, extra time may be given to an author. All communication regarding the review will be through the named contact author.
The contact editor will decide if a protocol is ready to be sent to referees. Referees will, where possible and appropriate include internal and external referees, a methods referee, a consumer and a representative from a low-income country.
Referees are asked to return their comments (on the Group's feedback form if desired) within three weeks. No attempt is made to conceal the identity of the authors of the review from the referees, or vice versa.
The contact editor will summarise the comments of the referees and these will be passed on to the contact author. Following any necessary revisions, and after approval by the contact editor, protocols are submitted for inclusion in the Cochrane Library.
If an author requires statistical support he/she may be put in touch with the group's statistical advisor (via the Managing Editor). The author(s) may attend the editorial base for consultation and/or assistance in using RevMan. Materials such as the RevMan software and the Cochrane Handbook will be provided to those unable to obtain their own copies. The editorial base is willing to provide support in developing protocols and in finding expert help where needed.
Co-authors who disagree on any aspect relating to the content of the review or to its method of preparation are encouraged to settle their dispute between themselves. If this is not possible, then the contact or co-ordinating editor will mediate, and if necessary involve the reference Cochrane Centre.
Where there is a disagreement between the editor and the author(s), the co-ordinating editor will mediate, and if necessary involve the reference Cochrane Centre.
Copy-editing, according to Cochrane guidelines, is carried out on the protocol before submission for publication.
Protocols will normally be removed from the Cochrane Library after two years if no review has been received.
For continuity, wherever possible the views of the referees who commented on the protocol will be sought again for the review once the contact editor has given his/her approval.
The contact editor will collate the comments and pass them to the author within three weeks. Following revision and approval by the contact editor, and further comment by the referees and others if this is thought appropriate the review will be submitted to CDSR. If the contact editor and the authors do not agree on the submission further views from external referees will be sought. Where agreement cannot be reached, the CGCCRG advisory group will make a final decision on whether the review will be submitted.
In addition to the support that is offered to the author(s) at the protocol stage, authors can expect to receive citations of newly-found trial reports on a regular basis. The trials search co-ordinator will search the Group's specialised register quarterly for each review up to the publication of the review on the Cochrane Library. Results of searches will be sent to the contact author whose responsibility it is to share the information with the co-authors. Help with obtaining full papers or translations may be sought from the editorial base.
As with protocols, the review will be copy-edited according to Cochrane guidelines before submission for inclusion in the Cochrane Library.
Synopses of reviews may be written by the author(s) in which case they will be sent to the Cochrane Consumer Network for approval, or if preferred, the Consumer Network will write the synopsis, the author giving approval before publication.
Authors will be expected to update their reviews at least two-yearly (from the date of publication of the Cochrane Library, or sooner if new evidence becomes available. Where there is no new evidence, this should be stated together with the search strategy used to look for new data. Newly-found trial reports should be placed in the 'Studies awaiting assessment' or 'Classification pending'sections of RevMan during the updating process so they may be visible to readers of the review. Authors will be expected to respond to criticisms as quickly as possible.
Once a review has been published on the Cochrane Library, searches of the specialised register will be carried out three months before a review needs to be updated and sent to the contact author.
People maintaining a review are afforded the same level of support as those preparing a review, and substantive updates are submitted to the same procedures as the initial review.
Similarly, the policy for dealing with disagreements between co-authors and between authors and editors, is the same as that for those preparing a review.
If a review which has been published on the CDSR has, to the knowledge of the editorial team become out of date, the authors will be called upon to rectify this. If this is unlikely to happen, the editors may select alternative reviewers to maintain the review, or if this is not possible, remove the review from the Cochrane Library.