2010 categorisation of Cochrane review group priority exercises

Working with external partners/stakeholders to prioritise topics/reviews

James Lind Alliance

  • Using the priorities of the James Lind Alliance to prioritise topics/reviews.
  • Undertaking a prioritisation process with the James Lind Alliance.


  • Identifying priorities of consumers and patients by discussion with consumer members and representatives of consumer organisations.


  • Using a programme grant to prioritise the Cochrane Reviews identified by the funder.

Guideline developers/policy makers

  • Developing close links with guideline developers and policy makers, and ensuring that relationships are maintained after a prioritisation exercise or priority review has been undertaken.
  • Surveying policy makers for their priorities.
  • Employing a medical student to compare existing systematic reviews with a list of priority topics generated by meetings of policy makers.

Clinical societies/experts

  • Identifying and using the priorities of specialist clinical societies in a topic area.
  • Holding editor-conducted ‘interest group’ meetings at conferences, where external experts evaluate the topic list, prioritise topics, and add new interventions.
  • Contacting representatives from expert partners requesting their ‘top five’ priority reviews in a topic area and holding a prioritisation meeting with them to initially select 20 titles.
  • Using a programme grant to engage with clinicians to identify topics of uncertainty and importance.

Combined approaches

  • Contacting key external organisations and stakeholders to find out whether there is a particular Cochrane Review/update of interest for guidelines or from their consumers.
  • Creating of an alliance of national and international organisations who work in the field. In return for a yearly contribution, organisations will be invited to nominate someone to join a panel of clinical experts to prioritise reviews.
  • Involving a variety of key stakeholders in prioritisation, including leading charities, guideline developers, consumers, as well as clinicians and content experts in the field.

Specific approaches for engaging with external stakeholders

  • Employing a stakeholder liaison officer.

Working with internal partners/stakeholders to prioritise topics/reviews


  • Creating ‘Field Editors’ who are responsible for ensuring the scope within their field is sufficiently covered.
  • Conducting at least annual prioritisation meetings with the editorial office and board (face-to-face or over email), to prioritise assigned titles, protocols to reviews, and reviews to update.
  • Conducting prioritisation meetings of the editorial board, who apply the following criteria to decide whether or not a review/title is a priority:
    • Does the proposed review address a major burden of disease or problem?
    • Does the proposed review address a 'burning question' for patients, carers or practitioners?
    • What is the likelihood that the proposed review will influence either clinical practice or guide future research worldwide?
    • Does the proposed review overlap with other published or ongoing Cochrane
    • Reviews?
    • Is the proposed review feasible with regard to scope, resources, and methodology?


  • Accommodating author or stakeholder priorities when they arise.
  • Relying on authors’ knowledge of their specific topic area to identify and undertake reviews of priority topics.


  • Working with a Cochrane Field to survey consumers about their priority concerns.

Prioritising uncertainties

  • Using a grant to identify knowledge gaps in the group's scope. These gaps will be rationalized and advertised to potential author groups.
  • Working with DuETS to assess whether uncertainties identified 5 years ago are still uncertainties.

Prioritising by the amount of literature on a topic

  • Identifying trials that aren’t covered in Cochrane Reviews and then prioritising these topic areas.
  • 'Horizon scanning' via literature searching to identify new areas of clinical uncertainty and topical interest, and to keep up to date with new pharmacological and technological developments in the area.
  • Using our topic list and information provided by our Trials Register to highlight areas where reviews may be needed.
  • De-prioritising ‘empty’ reviews.

Prioritising by relevance to low- and middle-income countries, or by global need

  • Involving a developing country editor in prioritisation.
  • Responding to global priorities and needs as and when they arise (e.g. responding to pandemics).
  • Prioritising Cochrane Reviews of interventions for people who are 'communication vulnerable' and people in low and middle income countries.

Prioritising updates by times cited and accessed

  • Updating Cochrane Reviews that are most cited and accessed (as available from the data provided by Wiley).

Combined approaches to prioritisation

  • Prioritising topics identified through editors via their clinical practice; through discussion with Editorial team; searching literature; media etc.
  • Prioritising by strategic relevance, healthcare need (determined by millennium development goals), and strength of authorship team.