Welcome to this issue of Cochrane Methods, the official annual publication that reports on methodological developments and issues within Cochrane.
Cochrane is an international, independent, not-for-profit organisation ofmore than 28,000 contributors from 120 countries, dedicated to making up-to-date, accurate information about the effects of healthcare readily available worldwide. Its contributors work together to produce Cochrane Reviews of healthcare interventions, diagnostic tests and methodology, which are published online in The Cochrane Library. These reviews help providers, practitioners, patients and the public more generally, make informed decisions about their own healthcare and that of others. The Cochrane Methods Groups provide methodological policy advice to Cochrane on how the validity, precision and applicability of Cochrane Reviews can be improved. In addition, Methods Groups provide training, peer review and specialist advice, contribute to software developments, and conduct methodological research. You can read more on the current activities of the individual Methods Groups and their achievements on pages 37–53. A number of Groups are becoming active with social media including blogs and twitter accounts. Our Groups are publishing a large number of articles connected with Cochrane activity and development of review methods.
This year the Cochrane organization has undergone significant changes. We have an expanded Central Executive Team incorporating the Chief Executive’s Office, the Cochrane Editorial Unit, and the Financial and Core Services, Informatics and Knowledge Management, and Communication and External Affairs departments. The Cochrane Collaboration Steering Group have agreed an organizational Strategy to 2020 putting in place targets and plans for future development. Generous funds are allocated to a ‘Game Changers’ initiative to provide start-up money for Cochrane-based projects that will develop innovative activities. As previously reported regarding options for open access to our reviews we provide ‘Green’ access to our reviews, (automatic after 12months publication) and for a fee, a ‘Gold’ option to authors for immediate open access to our reviews. We are in the process of developing an authoring tool, Review Manager (RevMan) online, and a training and professional development strategy.
In this year’s Cochrane Methods we report on Cochrane developments, the development of a ‘Risk of bias’ tool for non-randomized studies, and progress of the 2012-2014 Methods Innovation Fund projects. We have secured further funds for new projects starting in 2015. We also provide feedback on training initiatives and developments from the pre-publication Review Screening project, which has screened over 300 reviews within the last year. In our news section, we also report on the progress of a proposal for a Methods Group for Rapid Reviews.
Our series of published article abstracts includes commentaries that cover searching and obtaining unpublished data, use of text mining for review efficiencies, and articles examining issues with meta-analyses covering the scope, quality assessment, and use of generalized Cochran heterogeneity statistics. Some other articles review patient safety strategies and a multi-component tool for prioritizing the updating of systematic reviews. In our original articles sectionwe address researchwastage, and two tools for updating reviews a tool for prioritization of reviews and another for creating focussed updates of reviews, finally an invitation to an ongoing dialogue and mutual co-operation between the Cochrane and Campbell Collaborations.
We are interested in providing a platform for discussions on topical or highly debated topics. If you have any ideas for contribution or would like to consider reporting the findings from your study in a future issue of Cochrane Methods, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are, as ever, very grateful to the many people who have contributed to this publication. Finally, Cochrane Methods editor Mike Clarke is stepping down due to the pressure of other commitments. We express our gratitude to Mike, a longstanding editor. We have benefited enormously from his extensive experience with Cochrane methodology. We would also like to congratulate one of our editors, Vivian Welch, on receiving an Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation Early Researcher Award in 2014.
Jackie Chandler, Joanne McKenzie, Isabelle Boutron, Vivian Welch (Editors of Cochrane Methods)