Conducting a Cochrane review of a complex public health topic is a considerable undertaking. The following tips and resources will help you plan and successfully complete your review.
Proposing a review
A new Cochrane review should be registered with the relevant Cochrane Review Group at the start of the process - the Cochrane community website has more information about proposing and registering a new review. A competent authorship team that includes people with content and systematic review methodology expertise and a thorough understanding of the primary research in the chosen topic area is crucial.
If you are thinking of starting a review, familiarise yourself with the scope of Cochrane Public Health (CPH) review on the About Us and Our Reviews pages. Please read the information Managing expectations: what does Cochrane expect of auhors, and what can authors expect of Cochrane? before contacting CPH. When you're ready to propose a new review with CPH, please email the Managing Editor Jodie Doyle (firstname.lastname@example.org). If your proposed title is likely to be within the scope of CPH, we will send you a formal Review Proposal Form to complete.
Cochrane defines knowledge translation (KT) as the process of supporting the use of health evidence from our high quality, trusted Cochrane Reviews by those who need it to make health decisions.
- Communications Plan. To support KT, CPH has developed a Communication Plan to help your author team to start thinking about and planning your content and strategies for dissemination of review findings. It is important to think about dissemination early in the review process (at protocol stage) as there is information you may be able to collect during review production that will be crucial to implementing an effective and well-targeted dissemination/communications strategy, come review publication time.
- Review Advisory Group guidance is also available if you are considering setting up an advisory group to inform the parameters of your Cochrane protocol. Cochrane provides a learning resource to support authors getting people involved in the production of their reviews.
For additional resources, see our KT page.
The Cochrane Training website has extensive training resources for Cochrane authors, including interactive online training, a series of regulat webinars and information about face-to-face training events near you. There is also a section on Making Systematic Reviews Policy Relevant. All resources are free for Cochrane authors, including the Cochrane Interactive Learning online course. Contact your local Cochrane Centre for more information about local training.
- Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions. A new edition was release in 2019. New chapters of particular interest to public health reviews include:
- Chapter 3 and Chapter 9 - planning your comparisons, subgroups and outcome selection ahead of time - especially useful for multi-component interventions and reviews expecting a lot of variation in included studies.
- Chapter 12 - synthesis methods when meta-analysis cannot be used.
- Chapter 16 - Equity and specific populations.
- Chapter 17 - Intervention complexity.
- Chapter 24 and Chapter 25 - Including non-randomised studies.
- A summary of key changes since the 2008 version.
- Methodological expectations of Cochrane intervention reviews (MECIR) - All Cochrane authors should be familiar with and follow these minimum expectations. Consult the relevant section when you are:
- Using GRADE to assess the certainty of the evidence. Cochrane Training has a collection of introductory resources on GRADE and a module covering this topic in the Cochrane Interactive Learning Course.
- Creating Summary of Findings (SOF) tables. An excellent webinar series for Using GRADE and the GRADEpro GDT online software in your Cochrane Review will be very useful to CPH authors (see in particular Presenting narrative outcomes in ‘Summary of findings’ table).
- The Cochrane Consumer and Communication Group have also produced a resource to help you develop SOF tables.
- Software. Cochrane review are completed and submitted for editorial review using RevMan Web. Other useful software tools that are free for Cochrane authors include:
Good practice & common errors – A Cochrane online training module that highlights the most common errors and points of good practice identified from submitted reviews. Take the quiz to check your knowledge, or work through the modules for a refresher.
Editorial process and timeline. Here you will find information about the three stages of review production (title registration, protocol publication and review publication). CPH had a Rejection Policy which outlines the circumstances under which a protocol or review may be denied publication.
The Cochrane Editorial and Publishing Policy Resource brings together Cochrane's editorial and publishing policies as well as general information about the editorial and publishing processes and the published products, including The Cochrane Library.