Editors: Jackie Chandler, Mike Clarke, Joanne McKenzie, Isabelle Bouton and Vivian Welch

ISSN: 2044-4702

A supplement to the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews


Welcome to this issue of Cochrane Methods, the official annual publication that reports on methodological developments and issues within The Cochrane Collaboration. This year, the Collaboration celebrates its 20th Anniversary and we start this issue with reflections from Doug Altman, one of our long serving members, a statistician who has been at the forefront of statistical developments in systematic reviews as well as being a co-convenor of the Statistical, Prognosis, and Bias Methods Groups. Doug has also been keenly involved in the development of reporting standards such as PRISMA and CONSORT, and the EQUATOR Network. We report in our news section on a series of articles in BMCSystematic Reviews highlighting the work and key contributions of Cochrane Methods Groups to the science of systematic reviews over the last 20 years. These papers also look forward to future methodological developments. For further information on other celebratory activities, including a social history and access to anniversary videos, visit

The Cochrane Collaboration is an international, independent, not-for-profit organization of more 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 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 the Collaboration 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 on pp. 45–54.

In November 2012, The Cochrane Collaboration welcomed its new CEO Mark Wilson who has been leading a strategic review of the Collaboration’s organizational structure and its strategic goals. As part of this restructuring Cochrane methods activity and support will now come under the responsibility of the Cochrane Editorial Unit and the Editor-in-Chief, David Tovey.

In this year’s Cochrane Methods we highlight the ongoing developments and published work of network meta-analysis for indirect comparisons, as well as the inclusion of studies with non-randomized designs in systematic reviews. Two articles address issues for the prioritization of systematic reviews. Another discusses adding implementation research to Cochrane Reviews. We also include an article discussing how authors of methodology articles might acknowledge the Collaboration for its support for methods development in those publications. Wehave updates from previously reported Methods Innovation Fund projects and a series of structured abstracts
and commentaries on topical methodological issues. These include strategies to promote systematic reviews in healthcare policy, the extent of unpublished methodological research, approaches to identify out-of-date reviews, prediction of the extent of heterogeneity in meta-analysis, economic evidence incorporation into GRADE considerations, the influence of reported study characteristics on intervention effect estimates, comparison of alternative heterogeneity variance estimators, assessment of bias in prognosis reviews, and reporting and synthesis approaches for qualitative research as well as health equity reporting guidelines. In our news section,
we highlight recent developments within the Collaboration, including the new publishing contract and open access publishing, the current review of the Cochrane Methodology Register, and developments to RevMan, the software used to produce Cochrane Reviews. 

We are always considering how best to develop Cochrane Methods, such as developing feature-length articles on a particular method of identified importance, a detailed methods description, developments in progress, a focus on key developers and implications for implementation. We are also 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

We are, as ever, very grateful to the many people who have contributed to this publication. We would like to thank, in particular, Julian Higgins who stepped down earlier this year as editor of Cochrane Methods for his editorial support and contributions to Cochrane Methods. We have been very fortunate in recruiting three new editors and welcome Joanne McKenzie (co-convenor Statistical Methods Group), Isabelle Boutron (co-convenor Bias Methods Group) and Vivian Welch (co-convenor Campbell and Cochrane Equity Methods Group).

Jackie Chandler, Mike Clarke, Joanne McKenzie, Isabelle Boutron, Vivian Welch (Editors of Cochrane Methods)


Finally, we should very much welcome your comments on Cochrane Methods with suggestions for future content, and encourage you to complete the readers’ survey.

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