About us

What do we do?

The Group was officially registered with Cochrane on 16th November 2004 and now has  more than 240 members from countries including  Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Columbia, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Spain, UK and USA.

A number of members have expressed an interest in getting involved in one or more of the activities associated with our group and details are summarised in the minutes of and the project updates presented at the meetings which can be accessed in the 'our official documents' area of this site.

The most recent meeting of the Group was held in 2023 in London, UK.


Scope of our work.

Meetings held since 2002 have developed the proposed remit and activities of the Group to include:

• Offering advice on information retrieval policy and practice.

• Providing training and support.

• Conducting empirical research (including systematic reviews) into information retrieval methods.

• Helping to monitor the quality of searching techniques employed in systematic reviews.

• Liaising with the Campbell Information Retrieval Methods Group.

• Serving as a forum for discussion via our email discussion list.


The importance of a broad and sensitive literature search to retrieve the maximum number of relevant published and unpublished studies is a crucial component of an unbiased systematic review.

A discussion with the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wales College of Medicine in 2002 about the Library's wish to develop further its support for the evidence-based healthcare agenda led to an exploration of the potential for a Cochrane Information Retrieval Methods Group. Colleagues at the UK Cochrane Centre and elsewhere expressed support for the concept and offered advice and guidance on the way forward.

It was suggested that the Group would complement the work of other Methods Groups, notably the Cochrane Bias Methods Group, and draw from the remits of two Groups that are no longer active: the Cochrane Informatics and a previously established Cochrane Information Retrieval Methods Groups. The Cochrane Informatics Methods Group was wound up as a result of a majority vote at their annual meeting in October 2000. It was considered by the Co-Convenors (Georg Koch and Jacob Riis) that the Collaboration's needs with respect to informatics were being met by the Cochrane Information Management System Group. The previously established Cochrane Information Retrieval Methods Group was originally set up as the Cochrane Coding and Classification Group. Its primary focus was on indexing. It was wound up by the Co-Convenors (William Hersh and Philippa Middleton) in December 2000, as they felt that the Cochrane Library Users' Group and other support mechanisms within the Collaboration sufficed. The remit of this Group is much broader than that of either of the disbanded groups, and the number of people signing up to join the Group so far is an indication of the enthusiasm which exists in this area.

Subsequent pre-exploratory and exploratory meetings resulted in the establishment of an international body of collaborators who have refined the scope and functions of the Information Retrieval Methods Group.


If you are interested in becoming a member of the Information Retrieval Methods Group, sign up to 'Join Cochrane' here or in the navigation bar above and complete the webform with your preferences.