Wed 4 Dec

Embracing Methodological Diversity

As with primary research, systematic reviews ask questions from a variety of epistemological, ideological, and theoretical standpoints. This diversity reflects the different ways in which people ask and answer questions, and the numerous perspectives they have about those questions. Therefore, reviews may differ from each other in many ways along a number of dimensions such as their approach (and epistemology), their structure, and the way in which they are conceptualised. Cochrane has developed and consolidated methods that are primarily related to reviews of the effects of interventions and diagnostic test accuracy. However, a number of other areas relevant to decision maker questions have had different degrees of methodological development within and/or outside Cochrane. Some of these areas are: 

  • Qualitative research and qualitative evidence synthesis. The potential contribution of qualitative evidence to decision-making is well established and a synthesis of such evidence (qualitative evidence synthesis) can add value by providing decision-makers with evidence to improve understanding of intervention complexity, contextual variation, implementation, and stakeholder preferences and experiences. However, there are a number of available methods that seems to require a wide range of expertise to be implemented and the selection of which of them should be used to answer a specific review question can be challenging.
  • Rapid reviews. These reviews have become prominent in the context of urgent decision-making processes in order to answer the time-sensitive needs of policymakers (and other decision makers). Although the concept is not novel, it remains a poorly understood and as yet ill-defined set of diverse methodologies supported by a paucity of published, available scientific literature. Additionally, there is tension between a timely response and ensuring that the scientific imperative of methodological rigour is satisfied.

Today's content will reflect on the relevance of these diverse review methodologies/types for different stakeholders, and how Cochrane is currently addressing the challenge of incorporating and developing these review methods. The new Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions will also be a feature of this day.

Special  Content

Lisa Anne Bero - "What do you want? When do you want it?" A Public Health Perspective
Lisa A. Bero, PhD is an expert in examining how science can be influenced and translated into clinical practice and health policy.  She directs the Evidence, Policy and Influence Collaborative Research Program at the Charles Perkins Centre, with Research nodes in Bias, Evidence Synthesis and Pharmaceutical Policy.  Professor Bero is Chair of Medicines Use and Health Outcomes, Faculty of Medicine and Health, School of Pharmacy, The University of Sydney.  She was Co-Chair, Cochrane Governing Board from 2014-2018 and is currently Senior Editor, Cochrane Public Health and Health Systems Network.  She has developed and validated methods for assessing bias in the design, conduct and dissemination of research on pharmaceuticals, tobacco, chemicals, and complex public health interventions.  Prof. Bero has also conducted analyses to examine the dissemination and policy implications of research evidence.  Her international activities include member and chair of the World Health Organization (WHO) Essential Medicines Committee and Cochrane Collaboration liaison to WHO.  Prof. Bero serves on several committees related to conflicts of interest, evidence and decisions, such as the Institute of Medicine Committee on Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education and Practice and the National Academy of Science Committee to review the Environmental Protection Agency Integrated Risk Information System Process.

Adrienne Stevens - Rapid Reviews: A way forward for Cochrane?
Adrienne Stevens, PhD, is Co-Convenor of the Cochrane Rapid Reviews Methods Group and Clinical Research Manager with the Knowledge Synthesis Group at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Canada. She provides scientific leadership and guidance in relation to knowledge synthesis research, including systematic and rapid reviews, to serve the needs of various end users. Her doctoral work focused on rapid reviews and reporting, and her broader research interests lie in knowledge synthesis, research reporting, and clinical practice guideline development. She received a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Split, Croatia.

Jane Noyes - Cochrane's response to embracing methodological diversity
Jane Noyes, PhD, former co-Chair and current member of the Cochrane Methods Executive, and Professor of Health and Social Services Research and Child Health in the School of Health Sciences, Bangor University, UK, discusses how the Methods Executive are incorporating diverse methods into their strategy for the future.

Related Content

The Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions is the official guide that describes in detail the process of preparing and maintaining Cochrane systematic reviews on the effects of healthcare interventions. The Handbook includes guidance on the standard methods applicable to every review (planning a review, searching and selecting studies, data collection, risk of bias assessment, statistical analysis, GRADE and interpreting results), as well as more specialised topics (non-randomized studies, adverse effects, complex interventions, equity, economics, patient-reported outcomes, individual patient data, prospective meta-analysis, and qualitative research).

Advances in the new Cochrane Handbook

Cochrane and Complex Reviews

RevMan Web is the next generation of Cochrane’s software for preparing and maintaining systematic reviews. This web-based version of RevMan will work across all platforms, be installation-free, and automatically updated. Featuring an improved and modernized workspace and user interface, RevMan Web will offer a more intuitive and enjoyable user experience than RevMan 5. 

Try the new Cochrane PICO search BETA on the Cochrane Library 
Search by Population, Intervention, Comparison, or Outcome.

Cochrane invites Cochrane Library users to a free webinar workshop on Cochrane PICO search – Cochrane’s new BETA discovery tool for finding reviews on the Cochrane Library. In the webinar workshop, we will offer a brief introduction to PICO search BETA and then work through a number of searches as a group, gathering feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of the search tool. The webinar workshop will take place 13:00-14:00 GMT Monday 9 December. If you would like to join, please contact Roger Tritton at

Community Participation

Cochrane Colloquium Challenge 2019

Cochrane Crowd are running a citation screening challenge to coincide with the virtual #CochraneSantiago Cochrane Colloquium, and everyone is welcome to join in to help reach our goal of 48,000 classifications in 48 hours!

Virtual #CochraneSantiago Discussions

Have you used the Cochrane Handbook before? Share your experience! What did you think of the #BetterPoster design? Easier to go through posters when this design is used? Or do you prefer the traditional format?

Oral Presentations and Posters

Those accepted for a short or long oral presentation at the Colloquium had the option to upload a video of their presentation or book a time with Cochrane to record one. Those accepted for a poster presentation at the Colloquium had the option to upload their poster file or their poster file with an audio presentation. All oral presentations and posters will be available for viewing on Monday December 2. Given Wednesday's theme, we suggest you view posters and presentations in these categories: