Understanding The Cochrane Collaboration
Catriona Bourne Swinton Hunter has just finished her secondary education at Tudor Hall, a school in Banbury, England. She spent a week at the Secretariat in Oxford, UK, in late June working on various projects, including updating the Collaboration’s introductory leaflets and analysing the Collaboration’s websites. Her final task of the week was to write an article summarising her experience and understanding of the Collaboration. Her words highlight the challenges the Collaboration faces in marketing itself and its products to diverse audiences. This issue was also raised in the strategic review and is being actively addressed by the Steering Group, in partnership with key stakeholders including the
Web Team, Editorial Unit, Secretariat, and Wiley‐Blackwell.
Being a fifteen‐year‐old girl is hard, especially when you’re looking for work. Of course, this isn’t a full‐time permanent job being looked for, only a week’s work experience. But I was glad when I heard that I might be able to work in the Secretariat of The Cochrane Collaboration for a week. However, my relief at finding I had a place to go soon gave way to a little apprehension. What actually was this organisation? I tried typing it into Google and soon my apprehension turned to more than a little confusion. Was a Cochrane Centre the same as The Cochrane Collaboration? And why was it trying to advertise a library?
It was only when I started my work experience that I fully understood. After a more careful look around the Collaboration’s website (yes, by now I had realised it was cochrane.org and not the Library or entity websites that I needed) I realised that The Cochrane Collaboration was responsible for information on something with relevance to us all: health care. I wondered why I hadn’t heard of it before. This was a worldwide organisation working to help everybody all around the globe!
I was overwhelmed by the friendly atmosphere and desire to work together as a group that I experienced in the Collaboration. Anybody could get involved, whether as a consumer or as a clinician. Each of the Collaboration’s websites was full of detailed, reliable information, and it was freely accessible to thousands of people!
The daunting question to a newcomer is: how does it improve health care? The thing is, the Collaboration helps in so many different ways it’s difficult to get an overall picture in your mind. It becomes clearer once you have worked within the organisation, but to an outsider it can be a little confusing. It didn’t take long, however, to become knee‐deep into a world of web pages, reviews and Colloquia.
Overall, my work experience with the Secretariat was thoroughly enjoyable and instructive. I definitely no longer feel an ‘outsider’.
Catriona Bourne Swinton Hunter
Cochrane Secretariat (work experience, 22‐26 June 2009)