2.3.8  Resources for a systematic review

Individual Cochrane reviews are prepared by authors working within CRGs. Each CRG has an editorial team responsible for producing a module of edited reviews for dissemination through the CDSR in The Cochrane Library.

 

Because The Cochrane Collaboration is built around CRGs, it is important that each author is linked with one from the beginning of the process. Besides ensuring that Cochrane reviews are carried out appropriately, this structure reduces the burden placed on individual authors since the editorial teams are responsible for providing most or all of the following types of support:

 

The main resource required by authors is their own time. The majority of authors will contribute their time free of charge because it will be viewed as part of their existing efforts to keep up to date in their areas of interest. In some cases, authors may need additional resources or, at least, be able to justify the amount of time required for a systematic review to colleagues who do not yet understand either what systematic reviews entail, or their importance.

 

The amount of time required will vary, depending on the topic of the review, the number of studies, the methods used (e.g. the extent of efforts to obtain unpublished information), the experience of the authors, and the types of support provided by the editorial team. The workload associated with undertaking a review is thus very variable. However, consideration of the tasks involved and the time required for each of these might help authors to estimate the amount of time that will be required. These tasks include training, meetings, protocol development, searching for studies, assessing citations and full-text reports of studies for eligibility, assessing the risk of bias of included studies, collecting data, pursuing missing data and unpublished studies, analyzing the data, interpreting the results and writing the review, keeping the review up to date.

 

A time chart with target dates for accomplishing key tasks can help with scheduling the time needed to complete a review. Such targets may vary widely from review to review. Authors, together with the editorial team for the CRG, must determine an appropriate time frame for a specific review. An example of a time chart with target dates can be found in Box 2.3.b.

 

Resources that might be required for these tasks, in addition to the authors’ time, include: