Welcome to Cochrane Methods

Cochrane methods 2014

Cochrane Methods is the virtual community, comprising a wide range of Cochrane groups and individuals, which exists to support the development and application of rigorous methodology.  This helps to ensure that all Cochrane systematic reviews meet the highest standards of quality. 

Cochrane has been at the forefront of systematic review methodology for over 20 years. Cochrane systematic reviews attempt to collate all empirical evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria in order to answer a specific research question. They use transparent and reproducible research methods that are selected with a view to minimizing bias, thus providing more reliable findings from which conclusions can be drawn and decisions made. Cochrane currently publishes four types of reviews: systematic reviews of interventions; systematic reviews of diagnostic test accuracy; methodology reviews; and overviews.

Cochrane has 16 Methods Groups. Methods currently used in all Cochrane systematic reviews are: question formulation, information retrieval, data collection, bias assessment, statistics and meta-analysis and summary of findings. However, the methods used in systematic reviews are continually evolving and therefore the Cochrane Methods community now also supports a range of more specialised methods for: qualitative data synthesis, inclusion of evidence from non-randomised studies and economic evaluations, comparison of multiple interventions and agenda and priority setting (this list is not exhaustive – see About and Methods Groups for further details of methods currently supported).

Cochrane has also recently developed its own set of methodological standards for the conduct and reporting of Cochrane Reviews. 



  • The Cochrane rebranding project has produced a set of logos for each individual Methods Group and a collective logo for Cochrane Methods. The Cochrane Methodology Review Group will have Cochrane logo in line with Review Groups referred to as 'Methodology Reviews'.
  • The Cochrane Colloquium will be held in Vienna. Call for abstracts for orals, poster and workshops will be on the 11th February.
  • The Methods Research and Review Development Framework policy is available. This policy sets out the rationale, development and overarching structure of a framework to guide the processes and decisions required for Cochane to guide the development and implementation of new methods and methods related developments.  


  • Methods Training Event 2014

    Applying the Cochrane Risk of Bias Assessment Tool for Non-Randomized Studies of Interventions (ACROBAT-NRSI)

    Over 40 participants (CRG, Centre representatives) attended a well-received training event in December on the newly developed ‘Risk of bias’ tool for the inclusion of randomized studies in intervention reviews. This event was held in Paris in full panoramic view of the Eiffel Tower! This training included a faculty of twelve experts including the tool developers. Participants received lectures followed by opportunities to use and apply the tool to actual study examples. Participants were able to provide the developers with very useful feedback to further develop the tool. The application of the ACROBAT-NRSI tool requires a high degree of clinical content expertise and therefore its implementation requires careful introduction.

    We would like to thank the following faculty individuals for their input and support of this event on behalf of Cochrane: Jonathan Sterne, Julian Higgins, David Henry, Peter Tugwell, Isabelle Boutron, George Wells, Holger Schὓnemann, Rachel Churchill, Jelena Savovic, Nancy Santesso and in particular Barney Reeves and Bev Shea, convenors of the Non Randomised Methods Group for organising the event.

    More information on the ACROBAT-NRSI tool, access to training materials, and access and use of the tool will be made available in the coming months. Please direct any immediate enquires to Jackie Chandler, Methods co-ordinator jchandler@cochrane.org   

    The Methods Training Event 2015 will be led by the Statistical Methods Group. Further information to follow.

  • Methodology Review just published: Bias due to selective inclusion and reporting of outcomes and analyses in systematic reviews of randomised trials of healthcare interventions
  • “From concepts to evidence synthesis: Towards a research agenda for methods of public health systematic reviews”.  A well received and successful symposium attended by over 100 delegates addressed issues of conducting public health reviews that required a range of methods to address broader context specific questions - Who, What and Why? Presenters addressed approaches for public health reviews that involve the "complicated complex and the complex complex (James Thomas, EPPI Centre, UK). Slide sets will be made available shortly on this site.
  • Methods Board agree to focus next year's symposium on the communication and understanding of "Evidence-based methods".
  • This year's Cochrane Methods is now available.Look out for this Cochrane Methods Library supplement in your Colloquium packs. Hardcopies will be sent out. Contact Maria Burgess mburgess@cochrane.org if you would like a copy. 
  • Cochrane funded a two-day workshop on updating systematic reviews in June at McMaster University to produce recommendations, an action plan going forward, enable development of guidance and monitoring performance indicators for CRGs, and explore statistical and technological developments that could facilitate updating. The workshop idneitified the challenges, when and whether to update. When proceeding, how to update exploring different approaches and the use of technology to create efficiencies. Some other considerations were centralisation of updates, management of a review’s update status, incentivizing authors, and managing authorship of updates (new authors). Recommendations were made. Further information


  • ADVERSE EFFECTS, EQUITY and INDIVIDUAL PARTICIPNAT DATA MGs are all contributing to reporting guidance (PRISMA).
  • SCREENING AND DIAGNSOTIC TESTS, APPLICABILITY AND RECOMMENDATIONS and the ECONOMICS MGs are all conducting full day workshops at the Colloquium. Economics are conducting  a post Colloquium two day workshop on health economics on the 26th and 27th September. The other two workshops are now FULLY BOOKED.
  • The PROSPECTIVE META-ANALYSIS MG convenors are active participants in the access to data debates giving high profile presentations to the Society for Clinical Trials, the National Library for Health, food and Drug Administration, Drug Information Association, BMJ, and the Medical Publishing Insights and Practices Initiative in New York. Davina Ghersi and Lisa Askie are on the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform Advisory Group.
  • The STATISTICAL MG are  recommending new statistical methods for dealing with heterogeneity (e.g. various estimators of the heterogeneity variance, calculation of confidence interval for the heterogeneity variance and for the summary of effect). This new estimator (Paule and Mandel) will use the Knapp-Hartung method for obtaining confidence intervals and the summary of effect. These will be taken forward in the next major structural change in RevMan (online).
  • The PROGNOSIS MG exemplar project progresses with the very recent publication of the first of three review protocols looking at prognostic factors for non-specific low back pain.
  • The  COMPARING MULTIPLE INTERVENTIONS MG has produced six guidance documents available on their website.
  • The AGENDA AND PRIORITY SETTING MG are working with colleagues in both the Economics MG and the CEU on prioritisation approaches to updates and research priority setting exercises for CRGs.
  • The BIAS MG and the NON-RANDOMISED STUDIES (NRS) MG have successfully developed an extension to the ‘Risk of bias tool’ for NRS, further development of the tool for nonstandard designs and the current tool for RCT’s progresses.
  • The following MGs are currently involved in a range of research and development projects: PATIENT REPORTED OUTCOMES (summarising data in minimally important difference units), INFORMATION RETRIEVAL (cluster searching for SR’s of complex interventions, filters to identify research in LMIC’s, text mining techniques for the development of search filters), and finally QUALITATIVE AND IMPLEMENTATION (A tool to assess and data extract intervention complexity, contribution of trial qualitative ‘sibling’ studies compared with unrelated qualitative studies, and tool to ascertain the certainty of qualitative evidence).                                                                                    


This site is intended for review authors, members of Methods Groups and Cochrane Review editorial teams as well as anyone interested in becoming more familiar with Cochrane methods. Information about methods-related activities and outputs within The Cochrane Collaboration will be provided here, including details of: methods innovations, developments, research, training and network events.

This site is under development (beta version) and will therefore be re-configured as new information is uploaded. Please provide feedback on the site. 

Jackie Chandler, Methods Co-ordinator

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Cochrane turns 20