The Bill Silverman Prize
William (Bill) Silverman, MD
William (Bill) Silverman (1924-2004) was one of the founders of American neonatal medicine. He was honoured repeatedly as one of the pioneers in his specialty; however, he often evoked somewhat contradictory responses amongst his colleagues because he was in the habit of raising troubling questions about the scientific basis and ethics of his and their practices. Like many of the people who have helped to establish The Cochrane Collaboration, Bill Silverman could be regarded as a 'troublemaker'. As he reiterated frequently, however, criticism is a form of troublemaking that can help to drive progress. Furthermore, criticism should not be limited to examining the work of others, but should also include self-criticism.
Bill Silverman Prize
The Bill Silverman Prize acknowledges explicitly the value of criticism of The Cochrane Collaboration, with a view to helping to improve its work, and thus achieve its aim of helping people make well-informed decisions about health care by providing the best possible evidence on the effects of healthcare interventions. The Cochrane Collaboration Steering Group approved the establishment of the Prize in 2007, and it was awarded for the first time in 2008.
The Prize is offered annually, and the authors of a piece of research published or presented in the twelve months preceding the call for nominations are eligible to be nominated. The Cochrane Operations Unit issues the call for nominations via The Cochrane Collaboration’s mailing lists and CCInfo in the first week of April each year. Nominations can be made by anyone, including the authors of the publication or presentation being nominated. Nominations should be sent to the Cochrane Operations Unit (email@example.com) with the name of the Award or Prize in the subject heading. The criteria for the Prize are that the publication or presentation has evaluated any aspect of the preparation, maintenance or dissemination of Cochrane reviews or the work of The Cochrane Collaboration more generally, and:
- was of high quality;
- was accompanied by constructive suggestions on how the relevant aspects of the work of The Cochrane Collaboration could be improved; and
- has had, or is likely to have, a positive impact on the scientific quality, relevance and use of Cochrane reviews.
The Prize comprises a certificate and US $1000 to the corresponding author of the selected publication or presentation.
Bill Silverman Prize Committee
The Prize Committee comprises five members, at least three of whom do not have an active role within any Cochrane entity (other than, possibly, as an author or referee of one or more Cochrane reviews). When one of the committee members stands down from the committee, the resulting vacancy is filled by the recipient of the most recent Prize (or a person chosen by the recipients). Members of the Committee for 2013 are David Moher (internal Co-Chair), Bill Summerskill (external Co-Chair), David Atkins, Sarah Donegan and Mona Nasser.
Funding for the Prize
Bill Silverman’s family agreed to the establishment of this Prize, and Iain and Jan Chalmers contributed GBP 5000 sterling of start-up funding. The Cochrane Collaboration Steering Group will determine the future of the Prize when this initial contribution has been exhausted and, if relevant, will seek to identify future funding. The Cochrane Operations Unit is responsible for administering these Prize funds.
Bill Silverman Prize recipients
2008 - Biester K et al. High dropout rates in trials included in Cochrane Reviews. Oral presentation at the XIV Cochrane Colloquium, Dublin, Ireland, October 2006 [abstract].
2009 - Moher D, Tetzlaff J, Tricco AC, Sampson M, Altman DG. Epidemiology and reporting characteristics of systematic reviews. PLoS Medicine 2007 4(3): e78. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040078 [full-text PDF].
2010 - Ford AC, Guyatt GH, Talley NJ, Moayyedi P, Errors in the conduct of systematic reviews of pharmacological interventions for irritable bowel syndrome. Am J Gastroenterol 2010; 105: 280-288; doi: 10.1038/ajg.2009.658. [abstract].
2011 - Donegan S, Williamson P, Gamble C, Tudur-Smith C. Indirect comparisons: a review of reporting and methodological quality. PLoS ONE 2010 5(11):e11054, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0011054. [abstract].
2012 - Nasser M, Welch V, Tugwell P, Ueffing E, Doyle J, Waters E. Ensuring relevance for Cochrane reviews: evaluating processes and methods for prioritizing topics for Cochrane reviews. J Clin Epidemiol 2012 Apr 19 [abstract].
See also section 2.4.3 of the Policy Manual.