PaPaS Editorial Process

 

At 30 May 2017, we are no longer accepting new title proposals, until further notice. This is due to the uncertainty around the structure and function of Cochrane Review Groups which are currently under review. You can read more about this project here: Organizational Structure and Function. We understand that the review will conclude towards the end of the year, at which time we will re-assess our position in light of any changes that will need to be implemented. For any queries, please contact us.




Proposing a title for registration

We will assess your title upon receipt of a Review Proposal Form (for intervention reviews) or an Overview Proposal Form (for overview reviews).

The intervention review title should follow the standard Cochrane format of '[Intervention] for [health care issue] in [population]'. An overview title will include an additional description, '- an overview of [Cochrane/systematic] reviews', as appropriate. This webpage contains information directly relating to an intervention review: more information about developing an overview is available in the Cochrane Handbook here.

The title will be assessed against our scope, the potential overlap with other CRGs or existing reviews, the skills of the author team, and its priority as a topic. We aim to produce only high priority, high impact reviews. In order for a new title to be accepted, we expect it to be supported by a strong case for registration, for example an urgent healthcare need or priority topic identified by policy-makers or guideline developers.

All authors must read and accept the terms in the Cochrane Commercial Sponsorship Policy: see here for more information.

The Editorial team aim to make a decision about review proposals within two weeks of the form being submitted. Completion of a Review Proposal Form does not guarantee registration of your title. 

We expect an author review team to consist of at least one author whose first language is English, a statistician, a methodologist, a clinician with relevant knowledge and experience, an experienced Cochrane review author and, where possible, a multi-geographical team. We expect authors to check the title they are proposing for potential overlap with existing reviews before submitting a title [by searching the Cochrane Library].

If more than one team proposes doing the same review, PaPaS advocates collaboration. If this is not possible, any conflict is resolved through discussion.

Once a title has been formally registered a unique 'identifier' will be allocated and all information will be sent to the Contact Person. The first draft of the protocol should be submitted within 6 months of this date. Note that if the first draft of the protocol is not submitted within 6 months, the title will be automatically de-registered unless there are extenuating circumstances. We encourage review authors to maintain contact with the CRG as the submission deadline approaches, and throughout the process.

While working on your Cochrane Protocol and Cochrane Reviews you may find it helpful to use or consult some good practice resources. Download a document with brief descriptions and links to the key resources, including reference sources and standards, software and other tools, as well as general resources related to Cochrane: click here.


Protocol development

Cochrane provides a range of information, resources and training covering the steps involved in conducting a Cochrane Review (e.g. online learning, workshops and webinars, see Cochrane Training).

Our Information Specialist (formerly Trials Search Co-ordinator) can help you design your search strategy.

We ask potential author groups to bear in mind that Cochrane does not have the resources or capacity to provide open-ended support to novice author teams. Authors are expected to be familiar with the principles of systematic reviewing and to demonstrate that they have the capacity to complete a protocol and review. We expect the first draft of the protocol to be submitted within 6 months of registration. If the first draft of the protocol is not submitted within 6 months, the title will be automatically de-registered unless there are extenuating circumstances.

The importance of protocols:

  1. bias is reduced;
  2. there is access to peer-review which ensures quality;
  3. publication of protocols reduces duplication of effort; anyone interested in researching the same topic will become aware of the work in progress.

Each protocol is peer reviewed by at least two external professionals, and at least one internal Contact Editor. The Managing Editor or Assistant Managing Editor manage the editorial process. The Co-ordinating Editor has overall responsibility and signs off all protocols and reviews.

Once the protocol has been revised in light of the referee comments, it will be copy edited by Cochrane's central service, undertaken in accordance with Cochrane's guidelines. More information is available here.

To ensure accordance with Cochrane standards (Handbook, MECIR), the Cochrane Style Manual and other required standards, validation checks will be run and minor copy editing amendments will be undertaken by the editorial office. We urge our authors to follow the Cochrane Style Manual, Cochrane Handbook and MECIR Conduct Standards, and we may ask for the protocol to be revised if these standards are consistently not met. Please also follow the MECIR standards listed in a RevMan template.

Disagreements are resolved through discussion. However, the PaPaS review group reserves the right to withdraw the title from the author at the protocol stage. Published protocols which have not progressed within two years will be withdrawn from the Cochrane Library.

See the Protocol Flowchart for a summary of the editorial process at PaPaS.


Review development

We encourage authors to utilise the available information and resources provided by PaPaS and Cochrane to complete the review.

Our Information Specialist (formerly Trials Search Co-ordinator) can help you in running your searches and de-duplicating the results.

We ask author groups to bear in mind that Cochrane does not have the resources or capacity to provide open-ended support to novice author teams. To ensure accordance with the Cochrane Style Guide and other required standards, validation checks will be run and minor copy editing amendments will be undertaken by the editorial office. We urge our authors to follow the Cochrane Style ManualCochrane Handbook and MECIR Reporting Standards, and we may ask for the review to be revised if these standards are consistently not met. Please also follow the MECIR standards listed in a RevMan template.

We expect the submission of the first draft of the full review within 12 months of publishing the protocol. If there are a large number of trials and the breadth of the topic is significant, it is possible to negotiate a longer timeframe. If no progress has been made after two years, we reserve the right to de-register the title and withdraw the protocol from the Library. We encourage authors to maintain contact with PaPaS so that we can provide support and advice.

Each review is peer reviewed by at least two external professionals, at least one consumer referee, and one internal Contact Editor. The Managing Editor or Assistant Managing Editor manage the editorial process. The Co-ordinating Editor has overall responsibility and signs off all protocols and reviews.

Once the review has been revised in light of the referee comments, it may be screened by the Cochrane Editorial Unit (CEU). The CEU's pre-publication quality assurance screening for all new Cochrane reviews was introduced in 2013. You can read more about Cochrane's quality assurance programme here. Depending on the results, further editing may be required before proceeding to copy edit and publication.

Copy editing is managed by Cochrane's central service, undertaken in accordance with Cochrane's guidelines and the Cochrane Style Manual. Disagreements are resolved through discussion.

When the review has been published in the Cochrane Library, the lead review author is supplied with an online licence: information on how to access these is provided on publication.

See the Review Flowchart for a summary of the editorial process at PaPaS.


Updating your Cochrane review

We no longer require that all titles be updated every two years, but now decide either at publication of your new review or at the two-year point after publication of the previous version, whether an update is necessary based on the current evidence and changes in our methods of systematic review (see the Updates Classification Flowchart).

[Note that as of January 2017, we are now assessing Overviews for updating every five years, rather than every two. This has been introduced in order to account for the length of time it takes to develop and publish Cochrane/systematic reviews that may be included in the Overview.]

We will contact you 18 months to two years after publication of your review to discuss the update. At that time, it would be helpful if you and your team could consider the following points and contact us to discuss how to proceed:

-Are you and your team still available to complete the update, if required?
-Is the research area still active, i.e. is your review question current or historical?
-Is it possible that new research has been published, and could it change the conclusions?
-Does your review meet all current methodological standards (e.g. GRADE, risk of bias, MECIR standards, sub-headings in RevMan)? (See below)

Updating

If there is a need to update your review and you and your team are available, we can arrange to update the searches for you. We expect first drafts to be submitted within 3 - 6 months of performing the searches. All Cochrane reviews should be published within 12 months of the latest search. We will send you guidance documents to support the completion of the update (see also our Documents page). We urge our authors to follow the Cochrane Style ManualCochrane Handbook and MECIR Reporting Standards, and we may ask for the review to be revised if these standards are consistently not met.

If there is a need to update your review but you and your team are no longer available, please let us know at the earliest opportunity. It would be helpful if you were able to recommend another team who can complete the update.

It is important to follow the PaPaS guidance document, including the MECIR standards listed in this RevMan template, which should be utilised alongside the template for new reviews in case general standards have been revised since you last completed your review. Please also ensure you find out the latest guidelines introduced by Cochrane:

Review Manager 5.3

Archie: What's New?

Comments, feedback, and criticisms are monitored regularly, and a review may be updated or even removed from the Cochrane Library if warranted.

Any conflict between review authors or the editorial team, or both, will be resolved through discussion.

The editorial process for updates at PaPaS follows the same steps as the Review Flowchart.

For reviews that greatly exceed the expected timelines for submission, or if there is little or no activity in RevMan, we reserve the right to withdraw these titles or pass them to another author team.

Stabilising your review

We can now 'stabilise' your review if it meets one or more of the following criteria:

-The review question is historical (e.g. the intervention is no longer in use);
-No new evidence has been published and the review meets current methodological standards;
-New evidence has been published but it is unlikely to change the conclusions.

If this is the case, we will re-publish your review with a 'No longer updating' What's New event, and a Published Note to explain our decision for the benefit of the reader. Going forward, we can update your review on an 'as needed' basis.