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Reflections on meetings in Oxford

David Tovey is the Editor in Chief of The Cochrane Library, and has been working with the Collaboration in this role since 2009. In this post, he shares his impressions of recent Cochrane and evidence-based health care meetings in Oxford, UK, and considers some of the key themes emerging from presentations and discussions there.

David Tovey, blog authorThis year’s Cochrane mid-year meetings, held in Oxford last month, provided much food for thought in terms of our strategic aims and priorities for the next 12-15 months. The Collaboration is set to enter a period of substantial change under the leadership of CEO Mark Wilson, and alongside this we have a new and revitalised publishing contract signalling a change in our relationship with our colleagues at Wiley.

The most notable change in terms of our publishing arrangements is the introduction of green and gold route open access from February 2013. This will be additional to our existing licensing arrangements and will provide access to content to those who would not otherwise have access. New and updated reviews will become open access 12 months after publication, starting in February 2014 (‘green route’). Funding bodies and review author teams will also have the option to pay an article publication charge (sometimes called an article processing charge) for immediate open access under a Creative Commons licence (‘gold route’). This is an important step forward for the Collaboration, but we are clear that it is only a first step along the road to open access. Over the next few years we are intending to hold conversations with existing and potential customers aimed at increasing the volume of content that is truly open access.

The mid-year meetings were immediately followed by the Cochrane UK and Ireland 21st Anniversary Symposium and the EvidenceLive 2013 conference. Three key themes came out of these meetings:

  • Maintaining and continuing to improve the quality of Cochrane Reviews is the most important issue we face. Recent incidents have led to the realisation that changes aimed at ensuring consistent adherence to best conduct and reporting practice need to be introduced with some urgency. Further information on this and opportunities for consultation will follow over the next few weeks.

  • Assuring that Cochrane Reviews are relevant to key stakeholders is as essential as maintaining methodological quality. The content expertise within the Collaboration needs to be augmented by the perspectives and priorities of consumers, health professionals and policy makers to identify the most important uncertainties.

  • The Cochrane Review editorial process is too long and somewhat inefficient. The introduction of the workflows system and the checklists developed by Cochrane’s Editorial Resources Committee are steps in the right direction, but we need to reflect on what else is needed to ensure that high-priority reviews are moved as efficiently as possible through the system to timely publication.

The Cochrane Content Publishing and Delivery Programme, developed out of the 2012 Strategic Session, identified a number of key workstreams that will begin to bear fruit in 2013: the move from monthly publication to ‘publish when ready’; the development of ‘Cochrane 2.0’ – major changes to our online presentation; continuing work on developing derivative products; and the roll-out of the Cochrane Register of Studies. More recently, we have started work on a Cochrane publishing and editorial policy manual. These are all important for the future sustainability of our key products. However, none should distract us from the importance of assuring the quality, relevance, and timeliness of Cochrane Reviews.

David Tovey (


Re: Reflections on meetings in Oxford

I find it very good that Cochrane goes Open Access. Always found it quite odd that an organization such at the forefront of transparency in medicine doesn't publish OA. I find gold better than green, but obviously green is better than nothing.

However, one question: Are there any plans to also make past cochrane reviews available as OA? I assume this may pose some challenges clearing the licensing rights, but I'd consider it an important addition.

Re: Reflections on meetings in Oxford

These were incredibly stimulating events and I think we all came away with lots of fresh ideas about the challenges ahead and plans for how we might tackle some of them. Readers may be interested in our Storify of the Anniversary Symposium, which pulls together tweets, videos, photos and commentary from the event; it can be viewed here

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Updated on: April 16, 2013, 7:25

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