Cochrane Methods Report 2023

Welcome to the 13th Cochrane Methods report compiled by the Central Executive Team to provide an overview of the key methodological activities in Cochrane over the past two years. The report highlights the importance of our methods community, particularly Cochrane Methods Groups and their members, in continuing to improve the relevance, quality and timeliness of Cochrane Reviews. Major initiatives included the following…

Paving the way to a new model for producing Cochrane evidence

To maintain our hard-earned place as one of the world's most trusted health evidence producers, Cochrane is moving towards a new model of producing evidence. This organisational transformation takes time, and the changes will unfold over the coming years. Here are some of the initiatives that are most relevant from a methods perspective.

The Methods Support Unit continue working to support Cochrane authors and editors 

The Methods Support Unit (MSU) launched in October 2019 and includes two Statistical Editors and two Methodological Editors. By June 2023, the Unit had dealt with over 1,250 referrals relating to protocols, systematic reviews, updates of reviews, and statistical and methodological queries relating to reviews. This work has ranged from full methodological and statistical reviews of research incorporating network meta-analyses to (for example) individual queries about using an intracluster correlation coefficient to adjust data from an individual study.
The unit is also increasingly focused on developing guidance for Cochrane authors and editors. The aim is to produce materials that are easy to access, both in terms of availability and usability. Examples of this guidance are:
  • Monthly MSU web clinics where methodological and statistical issues are discussed. Recordings of these clinics are available on the Cochrane Training website.
  • The new ‘Methods and Statistics Tutorials' series in the Cochrane Evidence Synthesis and Methods. These tutorials provide advice on common difficulties and are supplemented by interactive e-learning.
  • Launched new resources for authors using the Risk of Bias (RoB2) and the Risk Of Bias In Non-randomised Studies of Interventions (ROBINS-I) tools.
The Unit is also working on delivering training and advising on guidance to support technical developments in RevMan, for example, study-centric data.

Other methods activities in Cochrane

Achievements and contributions from the Methods Groups

Cochrane greatly appreciates the expertise and contributions of the Cochrane Methods Groups. Each day throughout August 2023 we will put each of our Methods Groups in the spotlight and celebrate their achievements in methods research and development, development of best practices and guidance, and methods implementation.

Methods Groups' Spotlight On Reports

Cochrane Handbooks and methods guidance

We are glad to announce news regarding the development of Cochrane Handbooks and methods guidance focusing on different review questions.

The Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions will launch a new version in August 2023 (version 6.4), with changes related to reporting guidance (Chapter III), guidance on searching (Chapter 4) and its accompanying Technical Supplement.

The Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Diagnostic Test Accuracy was launched in July 2023 (available to purchase via Wiley, and online for Cochrane members via the Cochrane Training website). Developed by the Cochrane Screening and Diagnostic Tests Methods Group, this new version of the Handbook includes updated guidance on understanding test accuracy measures (Chapter 4), searching for and selecting studies (Chapter 6), assessing the risk of bias and applicability in included studies (Chapter 8), understanding meta-analysis (Chapter 9), presenting findings (Chapter 11) and drawing conclusions (Chapter 12). Read more about what you need to know about the new Handbook via Cochrane Community.

The Cochrane Handbook for Qualitative Evidence Synthesis is under development by the Cochrane Qualitative and Implementation Methods Group in partnership with the Campbell Collaboration. The first chapters will be available in draft form for Cochrane members via the Cochrane Training website in the coming months. Printed versions of this Handbook will be available in 2024.

The Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Prognosis Studies is under development by the Prognosis Methods Group. The first chapters of this Handbook will be available in 2024 via the Cochrane Training website.

Methods community

The 2023 Methods Symposium will be our first in-person Symposium since 2018! Hosted on 3 September, the day before the 2023 Cochrane Colloquium, this two-part session will focus on data reuse and equity issues. The first session will explore how data could be structured so it is readily reusable across the research ecosystem to maximise its potential, and the second session will discuss equity in evidence synthesis from multiple angles. With speakers and chairs from across Methods Groups, attendees for this sold-out event will hear talks on collaboration, optimising data flows between researchers, and different perspectives on equity in evidence synthesis.

Work to develop the links between Methods Groups and other groups across Cochrane will continue as the new model for producing systematic reviews is established. Please register for our Cochrane Methods Network newsletters to hear about ways to get involved and stay up-to-date on developments.

We say goodbye and thank you to the following:

  • Holger Schunemann (GRADEing) as member of the Methods Executive.
  • Corinna Dressler, Donna Gillies, Jamie Hartmann-Boyce, Asbjørn Hróbjartsson, Ana Marušić, Mona Nasser, Jane Noyes, Tomas Pantoja, Philippe Ravaud, Johannes B. Reitsma, Rebecca Ryan, Nicole Skoetz and Nichole Taske as members of the Scientific Committee.
  • Kerry Dwan, Head of the Methods Support Unit (Evidence Production & Methods Directorate)
  • Andrew Back, Statistical Editor of the Methods Support Unit (Evidence Production & Methods Directorate)
  • Jill Hayden, Convenor from the Prognosis Methods Group.
  • Daniela Junqueira, Convenor from the Adverse Effects Methods Group.
  • Julie Glanville, Convenor from the Information Retrieval Methods Group.
  • Donald Patrick, Convenor from the Patient Reported Outcomes Methods Group.
  • Sandy Oliver and Soumyadeep Bhaumik, Convenors from the Priority Setting Methods Group.
  • Saskia Cheyne, Convenor from the Prospective Meta-Analysis Methods Group.
  • Adrienne Stevens, Convenor from the Rapid Reviews Methods Group.
  • Petra Mackaskill, Convenor from the Screening and Diagnostic Tests Methods Group.

And we welcome:

  • Chantelle Garrity (Rapid Reviews), Areti Angeliki Veroniki (Statistics), and Matt Page (Bias) as members of the Methods Executive.
  • Michael Brown as Editor of the Cochrane Evidence Synthesis and Methods.
  • Cinzia del Giovane to the Cochrane Council as methods representative, with the associated position of the Methods Executive.
  • Ingrid Arevalo-Rodriguez as Methods Implementation Editor (Evidence Production & Methods Directorate)
  • Rachel Richardson as Head of the Methods Support Unit (Evidence Production & Methods Directorate)
  • Emma Axon, Sofia Tsokani and Afroditi Kanellopoulou as Methodological and Statistical Editors in the Methods Support Unit (Evidence Production & Methods Directorate)
  • Lawrence Mbuagbaw, Convenor from the Equity Methods Group.
  • Tarang Sharma, Prashanti Eachempati and Seilin Uhm, Convenors from the Priority Setting Methods Group.
  • Heather Ames, Emma France, Catherine Houghton and Katy Sutcliffe, Convenors from the Qualitative and Implementation Methods Group.

With respect and best wishes,

Ingrid Arevalo-Rodriguez (Methods Implementation Editor)

Rachel Richardson (Methods Support Unit Lead)

Ella Flemyng (Interim Head of Editorial Policy and Research Integrity)