The editorial process

Review proposal and title registration

Review proposal and title registration avoids the duplication of reviews, and involves completing a review title proposal form which is submitted to the Cochrane Vascular editorial base for consideration by the co-ordinating editors.

If authors wish to determine whether or not their proposed area is already a subject of a review, we recommend searching within Cochrane Evidence.   

Details of the scope of the proposed review, extent and severity of disease, treatment(s) to be reviewed, and treatment(s) against which it will be compared are requested on the title proposal form. As well as being sent to the Co-ordinating Editors for consideration, titles are also broadcast via the Information Managment System to enable other CRGs to register an interest and avoid overlap. Authors are notified within one week of the  Co-ordinating Editors' decision to accept or reject a title. The Coordianting Editors may request the title or scope of a proposed review to be modified before it is accepted.

If more than one person proposes to do the same review the Managing Editor (ME) will attempt to establish collaboration between the parties, and will arbitrate during disagreements as required. The Co-ordinating Editor will make the final decision.

If you would like to submit a proposal form for a Diagnostic Test Accuracy  (DTA) systematic review please contact the Cochrane Vascular editorial base.  Further information on DTA reviews can be found at the Diagnostic Test Accuracy Working Group homepage.

Once a title has been registered, the contact author is sent acceptance information about the editorial process, the necessary software, information on preparing the protocol and checklists. 

For those familiar with Archie, submitted titles awaiting a decision on registration are known as vacant titles and those which have been unsuccessful become inactive titles.  Titles in these stages are therefore not  openly available for authoring. 

Titles which have been registered more than three months, for which protocols have not been submitted as planned, or where authors cannot be contacted, will be de-registered and listed on the Cochrane Vascular website for registration by other author teams.

Please see the Cochrane policy on rejecting Cochrane Reviews for further information.

Protocol development

The protocol describes the background to the review, its objectives, the inclusion criteria for trials, and the methods which will be used for extracting and processing the relevant information. Authors are given access to specialised Cochrane review preparation software RevMan via Archie. Archie is  the internet based repository for Cochrane's documents and contact details. It contains data about all the persons involved with Cochrane and all the documents and reviews produced. Within Archie it is possible to read, print and compare current and past versions of a document. 

Cochrane Vascular encourages authors and co-authors to attend a workshop on 'Developing a protocol' before commencing work. Training is also available online in the form of small modules which supplement the Cochrane Reviewers' Handbook in helping you gain skills and complete your review.  Protocols are expected to be submitted within three months of title registration. 

Draft protocols are sent to a minimum of one editor and two external referees, one of whom is normally an expert in the field and the other is usually a consumer or 'end-user', for comments. Editors and external referees are requested to return comments to the editorial base within three weeks. The comments are then forwarded to the review's contact author, and circulated amongst the authors allowing them to respond to the comments. Revised version(s) of the protocol will be sent out to the editor until the protocol is approved for publication.

Authors are aware of the identity and contact details of the editors and referees who comment on their protocols and, in the event of a difference of opinion, are free to engage in discussion with them to establish a solution.

Copy-editing of protocols is done by Cochrane's Copy Edit Support team. The Infomration Specialist (CIS) checks all search strategies. Authors are asked to approve the final version prior to publication on the Cochrane Library.

Review development

Review development involves identifying, and assessing the quality of the trials, extracting data, summarising the relevant information, and drawing conclusions. Advice on specific problems or queries is available from the editorial base. Cochrane Centres run workshops and courses in review production. 

The CIS searches for potential trials in the Cochrane Vascular Specialised Register and in the most recent issue of the Cochrane Library. The resultant citations from the reference search are added to the 'Classification pending' section of the RevMan file by the CIS and sent to the contact author. This is designed to assist review authors and to reduce errors in reference citations. 

The completed review should be submitted for editorial approval within 12 months of the protocol submission. If reviews are not submitted within this time or if the authors cannot be contacted, Cochrane Vascular  will de-register the title and transfer it to other author teams. 

Draft reviews are sent to a minimum of one editor, a statistician and two external referees, one of whom is normally an expert in the field and the other is usually a consumer or 'end-user', for comments. Editors and external referees are requested to return comments to the editorial base within three weeks. The comments are then forwarded to the review's contact author, and circulated amongst the authors allowing them to respond to the comments. Revised version(s) of the review will be sent out to the editor until the review is approved for publication.

Authors are aware of the identity and contact details of the editors and referees who comment on their protocols and, in the event of a difference of opinion, are free to engage in discussion with them to establish a solution.

Once approved the review is published on the Cochrane Library - authors are expected to ensure that their review is kept up to date by incorporating any new relevant information as it appears in the medical literature.

Updating of published reviews

The editorial base monitors its Specialised Register for trials identified since reviews were last published, that might be relevant for inclusion in updated reviews. Authors are advised of appropriate trials and are asked to regularly examine their reviews with a view to updating them.

Recent changes in the way updates are published have meant that each update is now regarded as a new citation for the authors.  If no new trials have been identified, and no changes are desired by the editorial base or the author, then the review may be updated as it stands. If changes are required, authors have three months in which to update the review. Revised reviews are assessed by a minimum of one editor and two external referees and, if necessary, the statistical editor prior to re-publication.  Reviews that include preliminary data from on-going trials are required to take subsequent data into account as soon as possible after publication of the data.

As with the protocol and review authoring process, if updated reviews are not submitted when expected, or if the authors do not respond when contacted, the editorial base has the right to make it available to other author groups. 

Copy-editing of reviews is done by Cochrane's Copy Edit Support team. Authors are asked to approve the final version prior to publication on CDSR.

Feedback

Reviews sometimes need to be updated in the light of comments received through the 'Feedback' facility in the Cochrane Library. Authors are obliged to provide a response to criticism, and, if significant changes are made to a review as a result, the revised review would be subjected to the same editorial requirements as an updated review.

Precise and detailed information about preparing a Cochrane review can be found within the resource panel on the right.