Box 3.2.c: Criteria for a new citation version of a Cochrane review

Criteria for a new citation version of a review: Conclusions changed

1.       Change in conclusions on an update

A review must be classified as a new citation version with conclusions changed if the Authors’ Conclusions change during an update to the extent that users of the review are recommended to re-read the review.

 

These conclusions may change as a result of adding (or removing) studies, changes in methodology, or important changes to the scope of the review (for example, new outcomes, comparisons, types of participants or developments in the intervention or its delivery). Changes in conclusions will almost invariably apply to implications for practice regarding the effects of the studied intervention(s). However, sometimes there will be an important change to the implications for research (for example, if newly included data have resolved uncertainties that were highlighted as needing further research in the previous version of the review). All important changes to conclusions in a ‘conclusions changed’ review must warrant reporting (and be reported) in the abstract of the review.

 

2.       Change in conclusions on correction of a serious error (Erratum)

A review must be classified as a new citation version with conclusions changed if the Authors’ Conclusions change upon correction of a serious error to the extent that users of the review are recommended to re-read the review. Such changes are the sort that would warrant a published erratum in a traditional paper journal.

 

3.       Change in conclusions on urgent incorporation of new information about the effects of an intervention

A review must be classified as a new citation version with conclusions changed if the Authors’ Conclusions change upon urgent incorporation of new information on the effects of an intervention to the extent that users of the review are recommended to re-read the review.

 

Criteria for a new citation version of a review: Conclusions not changed

4.       New authorship

An updated review may be considered to be a new citation version with conclusions not changed, at the joint discretion of the CRG and the authors, if a substantial amount of new information has been added, or if there have been important changes to the methodology, or if the review has undergone extensive replication or re-writing (not affecting the conclusions),

AND there has been an important change to the list of authors for citation (including a change in the first author, but usually not including re-ordering of other authors or deletion of authors), and all authors meet criteria for authorship as outlined in Chapter 4, Section 4.2.2.

 

The commitment that Cochrane review authors make to maintain their review may require extensive work to update a review, and this may not change the conclusions. Substantial amounts of work by the same review team should not automatically lead to a new citation version if the conclusions do not change (as the review team already has the citation; but see point 5 immediately below). However, when the review team changes through addition or replacement of authors, the review may be declared to be a new citation version to give appropriate credit to the new authors.

 

5.       Accumulation of changes

An updated review may be considered to be a new citation version with conclusions not changed, at the joint discretion of the CRG and the authors, if the review now looks substantially different from the previous citation version, irrespective of any changes to the conclusions or authors. A review may look different, for example, due to rewriting, the addition of numerous studies, or due to a substantial modification of the methodology, which has accumulated over time.

 

Note that every review should include a date on which it was last assessed as being up to date. Therefore this criterion for declaring a review to be a new citation version should be used only for triggering a new citation for the review in reference databases such as MEDLINE and SCI, and not for determining the date on which events or changes occurred.

 

6.       Correction of serious error in citation (Erratum)

A review may be classified as a new citation version with conclusions not changed if a serious error in the citation record needs to be corrected. Such changes (e.g. to spelling of an author’s name) are the sort that would warrant a published erratum in a traditional paper journal. An update is not necessary for an erratum. Critical errors that affect conclusions are covered under criterion 2 above.