Cochrane Methods Groups base their activities around the three core functions outlined by Cochrane. These are:
- Providing policy advice.
- Serving as a forum for discussion.
- Ensuring that the Methods Group functions as part of Cochrane.
Furthermore, each Methods Group may adopt one or more of the following elective core functions, subject to agreement with the Methods Executive:
- Providing training.
- Hosting a network of CRG-based methods individuals.
- Providing peer review.
- Providing specialist advice.
- Contributing to new products or lines of activity.
- Contributing to software development.
- Conducting Cochrane Methodology Reviews.
- Contributing to the Cochrane Methodology Register.
- Helping to monitor and improve the quality of Cochrane Reviews.
- Conducting methodological research.
- Communicating Cochrane methodology to external organizations.
Each Methods Group carries out its work in line with some or all of these functions, as described in more detail in this section.
The elective core functions of the Prospective Meta-Analysis (PMA) Methods Group are 'Providing peer review' and 'Providing specialist advice'.
Key activities and achievements of the PMA Methods Group include:
- Provision of advice on prospective meta-analysis methodology via email, telephone, workshops (e.g. at the 2010 Cochrane Colloquium),or through participation in the advisory committees of several prospective meta-analyses (e.g. ongoing PMAs of neonatal oxygen levels, and interventions for the prevention of childhood obesity);
- Publication of a chapter on prospective meta-analysis in the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions: Thomas J, Askie LM, Berlin JA, Elliott JH, Ghersi D, Simmonds M, Takwoingi Y, Tierney JF, Higgins HPT. Chapter 22: Prospective approaches to accumulating evidence. In: Higgins JPT, Thomas J, Chandler J, Cumpston M, Li T, Page MJ, Welch VA (editors). Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions version 6.1 (updated September 2020). Cochrane, 2020. Available from www.training.cochrane.org/handbook.
- Undertaking a review of published prospective meta-analysis protocols and results papers to assess key components required for classification as a prospective meta-analysis and identify key example papers;
- Communicating Cochrane prospective meta-analysis methods to external organisations, including to the International Forum for Standards for Research in Children and Neonatal Hot Topics.
The PMA Methods group is currently working on the following projects:
- PMA scoping review
- How to search trial registries for planned, ongoing, and unpublished studies, a key early step in building a PMA collaboration
- How to report PMAs and assess the 'quality' of their publications