2.4.3 Bill Silverman Prize
William (Bill) Silverman, MD
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 mixed 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.
The Bill Silverman Prize
The Bill Silverman Prize explicitly acknowledges the value of criticism of The Cochrane Collaboration, with a view to helping to improve its work, and thus to 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 establishment of the Prize was approved by the Cochrane Collaboration Steering Group in 2007, and awarded for the first time in 2008.
The call for nominations for this Prize is issued in early April each year, and the authors of a piece of research published or presented in the preceding twelve months are eligible. The criteria for the Prize are that the publication or presentation 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;
- has had, or is likely to have, a positive impact on the scientific quality, relevance and use of Cochrane reviews.
The Prize recipients are announced at the Cochrane Colloquium each year. The prize comprises a cash award of 1000 US dollars and a certificate. (Additional funds are not available from the Prize fund for the recipients to attend the Cochrane Colloquium.) The cash award goes to the corresponding author of the selected publication or presentation, and it is this person’s responsibility to distribute the award in a fair way to her/his colleagues. The Prize committee will provide details of all nominations that relate to evaluations of any aspect of the preparation, maintenance or dissemination of Cochrane Reviews or the work of The Cochrane Collaboration more generally, to the Cochrane Collaboration Steering Group, so that suggestions for improvements can be considered.
The Chair of the Prize committee calls for nominations for the Prize in early April. Nominations can be made by anyone, including the authors of the publication or presentation being nominated. Nominations should be e-mailed to the Cochrane Operations Unit (email@example.com) with ‘Bill Silverman Prize’ in the subject heading, the citation for the publication or presentation, and a brief explanation of how it meets the criteria for the Prize. The deadline for receipt of nominations is 31 July.
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). One of these people co-chairs the committee. The other co-chair is someone with an active role within a Cochrane entity. Each year, one of the co-chairs stands down from the committee, and is replaced as co-chair by an existing member. The resulting vacancy on the committee will be filled by the recipient of the most recent Prize (or a person chosen by the recipients).
Funding for the Prize
Bill Silverman’s family agreed to the establishment of this Prize, and Iain and Jan Chalmers contributed 5000 pounds sterling of start-up funding. These Prize funds are administered by the Cochrane Operations Unit (previously called the 'Secretariat'). 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.
More details can be found on the Collaboration's website at http://www.cochrane.org/about-us/awards-scholarships-funding-initiatives/annual-prizes-and-awards/bill-silverman-prize.