1.1 Description of The Cochrane Collaboration
The Cochrane Collaboration is an international organisation that aims to help people make well-informed decisions about health care by preparing, maintaining and promoting the accessibility of systematic reviews of the effects of healthcare interventions. It is a not-for-profit organisation, established as a company, limited by guarantee, and registered as a charity in the UK (number 1045921).
Healthcare decision-making throughout the world will be informed by high quality, timely research evidence. The Cochrane Collaboration will play a pivotal role in the production and dissemination of this evidence across all areas of health care.
The Cochrane Collaboration’s work is based on ten key principles:
- Collaboration, by internally and externally fostering good communications, open decisionmaking and teamwork.
- Building on the enthusiasm of individuals, by involving and supporting people of different skills and backgrounds.
- Avoiding duplication, by good management and co-ordination to maximise economy of effort.
- Minimising bias, through a variety of approaches such as scientific rigour, ensuring broad participation, and avoiding conflicts of interest.
- Keeping up to date, by a commitment to ensure that Cochrane reviews are maintained through identification and incorporation of new evidence.
- Striving for relevance, by promoting the assessment of healthcare interventions using outcomes that matter to people making choices in health care.
- Promoting access, by wide dissemination of the outputs of The Cochrane Collaboration, taking advantage of strategic alliances, and by promoting appropriate prices, content and media to meet the needs of users worldwide.
- Ensuring quality, by being open and responsive to feedback, applying advances in methodology, and developing systems for quality improvement.
- Continuity, by ensuring that responsibility for reviews, editorial processes and key functions is maintained and renewed.
- Enabling wide participation in the work of The Cochrane Collaboration by reducing barriers to contributing and by encouraging diversity.
[The principles are available to the public at http://www.cochrane.org/about-us/our-principles.]
Structure of The Cochrane Collaboration
Cochrane Review Groups
The main work of The Cochrane Collaboration is done by more than fifty Cochrane Review Groups, within which Cochrane reviews are prepared and maintained. The members of these groups – researchers, healthcare professionals, people using the health services (consumers), and others – have come together because they share an interest in generating reliable, up-to-date evidence relevant to the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of particular health problems or groups of problems.
To become part of The Cochrane Collaboration, an intending new Cochrane Review Group is required to prepare a plan outlining how it will contribute to The Cochrane Collaboration’s objectives. The plan should describe who will have responsibility for planning, co-ordinating and monitoring the Group’s work (a co-ordinating editor, supported by an editorial team). It should also describe how the Group will identify and assemble in a specialized register as high a proportion as possible of all the studies relevant to its declared scope; and who, drawing on the studies in the register, will take responsibility for preparing and maintaining which reviews. Every Group appoints an individual to organise and manage the day-to-day activities of the Group – a Managing Editor. The work of Cochrane Review Groups is supported by people working in Methods Groups, Fields and Centres.
The science of research synthesis is still relatively young and evolving rapidly. Methods Groups have been established to develop methodology and advise The Cochrane Collaboration on how the validity and precision of systematic reviews can be improved. For example, the Statistical Methods Group is assessing ways of handling different kinds of data for statistical synthesis, and the Applicability and Recommendations Methods Group is exploring important questions about drawing conclusions regarding implications for practice, based on the results of reviews. The Methods Groups are represented on the Methods Board (see Section 18.104.22.168.1), alongside people with other key methods-related roles within the Collaboration, such as core staff of the Cochrane Methodology Review Group, and the editors of the Cochrane Handbooks.
Fields focus on dimensions of health care other than health problems, such as the setting of care (e.g. primary care), the type of consumer (e.g. older people), or the type of intervention (e.g. vaccines). People associated with Fields search specialist sources for relevant studies, help to ensure that priorities and perspectives in their sphere of interest are reflected in the work of Cochrane Review Groups, compile specialized databases, co-ordinate activities with relevant agencies outside The Cochrane Collaboration, and comment on systematic reviews relating to their particular area of interest. The Cochrane Consumer Network (CCNet) provides information and a forum for networking among consumers involved in The Cochrane Collaboration, and a liaison point for consumer groups around the world.
The work of Cochrane Review Groups, Methods Groups and Fields is facilitated in a variety of ways by the work of Cochrane Centres around the world, some of which have branches in other countries. Centres share responsibility for helping to co-ordinate and support members of The Cochrane Collaboration in areas such as training, and they promote the objectives of The Cochrane Collaboration at national level.
Members of registered Cochrane Review Groups, Methods Groups, Fields, the Consumer Network and Centres are eligible to vote in the election of members to The Cochrane Collaboration’s board of trustees - the Steering Group. The Steering Group meets face-to-face twice a year, once during the annual Cochrane Colloquium and on one other occasion. In between these meetings, it holds regular discussions by teleconference. Steering Group decisions are guided by goals and objectives which are set out in The Cochrane Collaboration’s Strategic Plan.
Cochrane Operations Unit
The Steering Group is supported by a small staff, based in the UK. Contact details for this office are:
The Cochrane Operations Unit
18-24 Middle Way
Telephone +44 (0)1865 310138
Fax +44 (0)1865 316023
Following is a list of some of the Steering Group’s working groups, some of which are no longer current:
- Editorial Resources Committee (former CRG Procedures Collection Working Party)
- Diagnostic Test Accuracy Reviews Working Party
- Elections Working Group
- Funding Working Group
- New Interface Working Party
- Style Guide Working Group
- Evidence Aid Working Group (former Tsunami Working Group)
- Umbrella Reviews Working Group
- Updating Working Group
For information about the remit, membership and timetables of these and other working groups, contact Lucie Jones at the Cochrane Operations Unit (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Sources of support
The rapid evolution of The Cochrane Collaboration owes much to the voluntary effort of thousands of individuals worldwide. In addition, the work of The Cochrane Collaboration is being supported by a large variety of institutions and funding organisations in many countries, and a list of these can be found on the Collaboration website (www.cochrane.org).
The Cochrane Library
The Cochrane Library is the main output of The Cochrane Collaboration, updated quarterly and distributed on an annual subscription basis via the Internet and on CD-ROM. See section 1.1.2 for a detailed description of the responsibilities of the Editor in Chief and Cochrane Editorial Unit for The Cochrane Library. The Library contains the following databases:
- The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews contains protocols and reviews prepared and maintained by Cochrane Review Groups. It includes a ‘Feedback’ system to enable users to help improve the quality of Cochrane reviews.
- The Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects, assembled and maintained by the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination in York, UK, contains critical assessments and structured abstracts of other systematic reviews, conforming to explicit quality criteria.
- The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) contains bibliographic information on tens of thousands of controlled trials, including reports published in conference proceedings and many other sources not currently listed in other bibliographic databases.
- The Cochrane Methodology Register contains references to articles and books on the science of reviewing research.
The Cochrane Library also contains two additional databases: the Health Technology Assessment Database, and the NHS Economic Evaluation Database.
The section ‘About The Cochrane Collaboration’ in The Cochrane Library contains contact details and other information about Cochrane Review Groups and other contributing entities within The Cochrane Collaboration.
For information on how to subscribe to The Cochrane Library, see www.thecochranelibrary.com
Subheadings in this section