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

Coming soon

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).

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

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Cochrane Colloquium Challenge 2019

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