Cochrane Crowd, Cochrane’s citizen science platform, is a global community of volunteers who are helping to classify the research needed to support informed decision-making about health care.
The job of the Cochrane Crowd community is to review descriptions of research studies to identify and classify randomized controlled trials (RCTs), a type of study that is considered the gold standard for clinical trials. Reports of RCTs are then fed into Cochrane’s Central Register of Controlled Trials, helping Cochrane authors and other systematic reviewers around the world quickly find the evidence they need to determine whether a treatment works, or whether a diagnostic test is accurate.
A challenge held in partnership with the Cochrane Associated Centre at Sinaloa’s Pediatric Hospital (Mexico) and the Autonomous University of Sinaloa (Mexico) recently broke all previously held challenge records.
Giordano Perez-Gaxiola, director of Cochrane Mexico and key challenge organiser said; "I had run a couple of small challenges through Cochrane Classmate with my students in the past year. I thought it was a simple way to motivate them to learn what Cochrane is, what a clinical trial is, and how an easy-to-use platform like Cochrane Crowd could help them learn. A couple of months ago I had a meeting with the dean of the medical faculty of the Autonomous University of Sinaloa (Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa, UAS), Dr. Gerardo Alapizco, to discuss how the university and our Cochrane Associated Centre at Sinaloa’s Pediatric Hospital (Hospital Pediátrico de Sinaloa, HPS) could collaborate. I proposed setting up a university-wide challenge in order to engage a large number of students. This would introduce them to Cochrane and hopefully pique their interest, potentially leading to further engagement with Cochrane. This proposal was then discussed and approved by the medical faculty’s governing committee. We agreed that all students at UAS would be invited to take part."
Over three days from Dec 5-8, 738 people signed up, 455 participated and 319,643 individual assessments were made equating to 89,692 records being screened. 90 people screened at least 1000 records during the challenge and as a result were invited to become Cochrane members. And finally, almost 10,000 RCTs were identified for Cochrane’s CENTRAL register of controlled trials, where they can be accessed by systematic reviewers around the world.
Perez-Gaxiola added; "In my opinion, a Cochrane Crowd challenge is a simple way to engage students, to help them learn about Cochrane and about clinical trials. It is very easy to set up (takes about 10 minutes) and easy for the students to participate. It can be a useful teaching tool, too. And if you make it a competition, it can be fun."