The text of the review should be succinct and readable. Although there is no formal word limit for Cochrane reviews, review authors should consider 10,000 words an absolute maximum unless there is special reason to write a longer review. Most reviews should be substantially shorter than this. A review should be written so that someone who is not an expert in the area can understand it, in light of the following policy statement, stated in the Cochrane Manual (www.cochrane.org/about-us/policy-manual):

“The target audience for Cochrane reviews is people making decisions about health care. This includes healthcare professionals, consumers and policy makers with a basic understanding of the underlying disease or problem.

It is a part of the mission and a basic principle of The Cochrane Collaboration to promote the accessibility of systematic reviews of the effects of healthcare interventions to anyone wanting to make a decision about health care. However, this does not mean that Cochrane reviews must be understandable to anyone, regardless of their background. This is not possible, any more than it would be possible for Cochrane reviews to be written in a single language that is understandable to everyone in the world.

Cochrane reviews should be written so that they are easy to read and understand by someone with a basic sense of the topic who may not necessarily be an expert in the area. Some explanation of terms and concepts is likely to be helpful, and perhaps even essential. However, too much explanation can detract from the readability of a review. Simplicity and clarity are also vital to readability. The readability of Cochrane reviews should be comparable to that of a well written article in a general medical journal.”

 

The text of a Cochrane review contains a number of fixed headings and subheadings that are embedded in RevMan. Additional subheadings may be added by the author at any point. Certain specific subheadings are recommended for use by all authors (and can be activated or deactivated in RevMan). However, these are not mandatory and should be avoided if they make individual sections needlessly short. Further, optional subheadings that may or may not be relevant to a particular review are also discussed below. Review authors who wish to mix recommended with optional subheadings should ensure that they are all displayed in appropriately consistent styles, which may require deactivating all of the recommended headings embedded in RevMan and creating them manually.

 

The following fixed headings are followed by fixed subheadings and can have no free text immediately after them: ‘Methods’, ‘Criteria for including studies’, ‘Results’, and ‘Authors’ conclusions’.