Cochrane Methods Symposium: Developing robust review protocols with increasingly diverse evidence

The 2019 Methods Symposium as held virtually on Wednesday 5 February 2020 due to the cancelled 2019 Cochrane Colloquium. Full details and links to the recorded talks are available below.

Links to all of the recorded presentations and PDFs of the slides can be accessed via Cochrane Training.  

Co-chairs: Professor Julian Higgins and Dr Joanne McKenzie

Cochrane Reviews are becoming increasingly complex as methods evolve, as data sources become more diverse, and as we increasingly recognize that health outcomes are the products of many interlinked elements. Cochrane pioneered the publication of protocols before undertaking systematic reviews, partly to help ensure that the many decisions we make along the way are objective and not based on the results of the identified studies.

The 2019 Methods Symposium examined whether our protocols continue to provide the road map we need to navigate a modern Cochrane Review. We explored how much can reasonably be anticipated about the decisions we need to make. Speakers addressed several aspects of pre-specification from diverse methodological perspectives, showcasing updated material in the new Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions (Version 6). Issues for discussion included what syntheses are to be performed, deciding which data to extract and analyse, and dealing with issues of complexity in interventions and study contexts. We discussed the extent to which issues can be overcome with careful review planning, and aimed to determine whether refinements are needed in our current guidance for writing protocols. 

The Symposium was intended for the wider Cochrane community. The sessions were particularly useful for Cochrane Review Group editors, methodologists and others involved in review production, as well as those who are interested in understanding considerations for developing robust Cochrane Review protocols with increasingly diverse evidence. 

Below is the programme with links to recordings of each of the talks (including PDFs of the slides) and to speaker biographies.

Part 1
(5 mins)

Welcome to the 2019 Methods Symposium (watch the recording)

Julian Higgins, University of Bristol, UK (Senior Handbook Editor)

Part 2
(15 mins)

General issues in pre-specification (watch the recording

James Thomas, EPPI-Centre, University College London, UK

Part 3
(15 mins)

The notion of PICO for synthesis: planning the grouping of studies for meta-analyses and other syntheses (watch the recording)

Sue Brennan, Monash University, Australia
Part 4
(10 mins)

Planning a Cochrane review to compare multiple interventions - the role of network meta-analysis (watch the recording)

Tianjing Li, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA; Department of Ophthalmology, School of Medicine, University of Colorado Denver, USA
Part 5
(10 mins)

Issues to consider when including qualitative evidence (watch the recording)

Angela Harden, University of East London, UK 
Part 6
(15 mins)

The problem of multiplicity and the use of hierarchical selection rules (watch the recording)

Matthew Page, Monash University, Australia

Part 7
(5 mins)

Special issues for addressing adverse effects (watch the recording)

Daniela Junqueira, University of Alberta, Canada
Part 8
(5 mins)

Issues in reviews of test accuracy (watch the recording)

Yemisi Takwoingi, University of Birmingham, UK
Part 9
(25 mins)

Questions and discussion (watch the recording)

Joanne McKenzie, Monash University, Australia, and Julian Higgins, University of Bristol, UK (Senior Handbook Editor)