Editorial peer-review process

Titles
To register a title with the Group, a Title Proposal Form must be completed by the author. This is available from cochrane_bjmtg@manchester.ac.uk

New titles should fit one of these three standard formats:
<Intervention> for <Health problem>
e.g. Antibiotics for chronic osteomyelitis
<Intervention A> versus <Intervention B> for <Health problem>
e.g. Immediate versus delayed treatment for multiple injuries
<Intervention> for <Health problem> in <Participant group/location>
e.g. Antibiotics for preventing infection in open limb fractures in adults

Proposals for new reviews are checked at minimum by the Managing Editor, Information Specialist, and the Co-ordinating Editor for relevance to the scope of the Group. Other Review Groups are contacted directly when the proposed review is likely to be more appropriate to their scope, or is in an established area of common interest. All Review Groups are then notified of the review title and comments requested. The Information Specialist conducts a provisional search to confirm whether the topic chosen has in fact been investigated using clinical trials. If no randomised or quasi-randomised trials of health intervention are identified by the Information Specialist after consultation with the potential author, the title may be declined. Once a title has been accepted, an information package about the Group and the preparation of a protocol are sent to the author. The Information Specialist  will contact the author to offer assistance with developing a search strategy. Once the title has been accepted, the author has six months to complete the protocol. Titles that are not converted into protocols within this time will be offered to other interested parties.

Protocols
Draft protocols are screened by the Managing Editor who checks that they meet basic requirements. Additional members of the editorial team may be approached for specific input before the protocol is sent to editors for comments. Completed draft protocols are reviewed by a minimum of three editors, including a statistician and a consumer, plus an external referee. All referees are requested to return their comments, using a standard form, within three weeks. The Information Specialist checks the proposed search strategies and suggests changes or additions. The comments are collated and summarised by the Managing Editor. A turnaround time of two months between receipt of protocol and return of editorial comments is aimed for. Revisions to the protocol are checked and authors are contacted to discuss any outstanding substantial editorial comments. The final copy-editing of the protocol is completed at the editorial base. After final approval by the Co-ordinating Editor, the protocol is submitted for publication in the Cochrane Library. Once the protocol is submitted, the review should be completed within one year. After consultation with the authors, protocols that have not been converted into full reviews within two years will generally be withdrawn from the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and offered to other interested parties.
 
Reviews
Draft reviews are screened by the Managing Editor, who checks that they meet basic requirements. Additional members of the editorial team may be approached for specific input before the review is sent for refereeing. Completed draft reviews are reviewed by a minimum of three editors, including a statistician and a consumer. Editors are requested to return their comments, using a standard form, within three weeks. The comments are collated and summarised by the Managing Editor. The target turnaround time is three months between receipt of review and return of editorial comments. Following resubmission, the review is submitted to at least one external (content) referee. Following receipt of their comments, authors will be contacted to discuss any further suggested changes. The final copy-editing of the review is completed at the editorial base, before final approval by the Co-ordinating Editor and submission to the Cochrane Library. Once the review is submitted, the author has two years to complete an update of the review.


Updating
Cochrane guidelines require that reviews are updated at least every two years or should have a commentary added to explain why this is done less frequently. Even if no substantive new evidence is found the review should be updated by adding the date of the latest search for evidence. For reviews where substantive new evidence has become available, authors may be requested to update their reviews earlier. Reviews that are not updated within two years may be offered to other interested parties. Allowance will be made for the revision of reviews where there is a substantial increase in the available evidence, or an important modification, usually increase, in scope.

Updates with a number of new trials, a change in scope, amendments to the conclusions or any other major change may be submitted for the complete editorial process as outlined above. A more limited process will be undertaken for updates that have limited new evidence, or for minor updates. The final decision on the extent of editorial processing for review updates remains with the Co-ordinating Editor.