Cochrane’s methodological standards were updated in 2016. Many of the conduct standards are already incorporated in the protocol text we provide upon registration of a new title. We expect authors to adhere to the conduct and reporting standard throughout all stages of synthesising evidence and drafting reviews. The standards are used throughout the editorial process to assure the quality of reviews. These revised standards may be easier to use than the original as they are aimed at specific stages e.g. when drafting the protocol. There is also information on deciding when to perform an update. All standards are important but I wanted to draw your attention to the following:
- If qualitative studies are to be included, this should be a secondary objective. This is likely to become more of an issue for us as we increase the number of reviews which include NRS to answer clinical questions that have not been answered by RCTs alone.
- Absolute effects must be reported in the abstract. These are much more meaningful that relative effects, which can be misleading.
- Abstracts also need to include a statement about applicability of the evidence, risk of bias, quality of the evidence and the conclusions must be consistent with other summary versions of the review and based only on the evidence presented within the review.
- Discuss results in terms of the clinical benefit – not only statistical significance.
- If your review meets these standards, it will fly though our internal quality control check and out to peer review.