TSC Support Team digest
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Trusted evidence. Informed decisions. Better health.

Issue 09 | February 2016

What should go in which box in a PRISMA flow diagram? Where can I find abstracts from past Cochrane Colloquia? Where can I get help with translations? All this and more in our latest issue. Keep in touch with us via
PRISMA resources

PRISMA flow diagrams

TSCs often have some responsibility for the PRISMA flow diagrams in Cochrane reviews, whether this is checking that the numbers are correct, or filling in some or all of the boxes. We thought we would draw your attention to some useful resources to help you.

PRISMA’s website contains all the key documents relating to the guidance, with a specific section on PRISMA flow diagrams. In addition, the University of North Carolina Health Sciences Library have produced a more detailed guide to creating PRISMA diagrams here.

Here’s a link to a spreadsheet produced by Liz Stovold, and shared via the TSC forum. It helps you track numbers through the review process for each search update.

Updates can be especially tricky to manage through PRISMA, especially if you do not have access to all of the search history. Liz Stovold, Deirdre Beecher, Ruth Foxlee and Anna Noel Storr have produced an Open Access paper on the topic, with recommendations for an adapted PRISMA flow diagram for updates, available via: Liz has also shared her RevMan file via the TSC Portal so that you can easily slot the template into a review update. You can find it in the "Software & projects" section.
We recently had a query to TSC Support about what should go into the “database searching” and “additional records identified through other sources” boxes.  Which box should contain trials registry searches? Where should searches of HTA and DARE be placed? TSCs should be aware that there is no official Cochrane policy about this, and the PRISMA statement does not go into detail. TSC Support discussed and concluded that anything found through electronic means should be counted under “database searches” and that “other sources” should reflect references retrieved by reference checking and hand searching, although if TSCs disagree and want to set the policy differently for their Group, they should do so. If you want to contribute to the discussion, why not post to the TSC Forum?
Tools for tracking retracted papers

Retraction Watch and PubChase

Rene Spijker has drawn our attention to PubChase, a service which alerts you when papers get retracted. PubChase is linked to Retraction Watch and PubMed, and if a paper is retracted you can get a notification via PubChase.  This will then link to the report of why the paper was retracted on Retraction Watch. Find out more here.

Retraction Watch is a useful blog, which you can subscribe to via email. The team behind it are funded by the Arnold Foundation, and their aim is to track and publicize retractions from August 2010 onwards. See their rationale here and find the blog here.
TSC Support Needs You!

Can you help the TSC Support Team?

The first TSC support team survey last year was about setting priorities for our workplan.  Many of you wanted us to prioritise finding ways of sharing best practice.
One of the ways we thought to do this was by collecting template text used by TSCs. Examples of the sort of things we could share would be:
  • Template text for the search sections of protocols, reviews and updates
  • Template emails to authors
  • Ways of keeping track of numbers for PRISMA diagrams
We are writing to ask you to send us (via TSC Support <>) any template text you have developed. We will anonymise the templates, and may edit them to bring them in line with MECIR standards.
We don’t imagine we will find any ‘one size fits all’ templates, but we hope to provide a selection (covering the different ways we all work) that we can share with the TSC community. If you can help, we would love to hear from you.
Help with translations...

Translation services (ME Support)

The ME Support bulletin was circulated recently and had some information about translations which is also relevant to TSCs.  Members of the Editorial team can contact Hayley Hassan (, Translations Support Officer (Communications & External Affairs Department), if they need a translator to assess non-English language studies for Reviews, perform data extraction, or translate a text if they do not have their own contacts.
Please note that data extraction is much quicker and preferable to translating the whole paper. When sending your request, include the paper, inclusion and exclusion criteria, or a data extraction form. Acknowledging the translators’ contribution in the Review is appreciated.
If you would like help to disseminate or translate published Reviews into certain languages, you can contact Hayley to find out if language teams have the capacity to help. Eventually it is hoped that TaskExchange will be used for future requests. If you have suggestions or questions on how to manage translation requests, or would like to learn more about Cochrane’s translation projects, you can find information here.
Round up from the TSC mailing list
Some useful items from the TSC list...

PRESS updated

The PRESS (Peer Review of  Electronic Search Strategies) explanation and elaboration document has been updated. This report underpins the PRESS checklist, which enables librarians and information specialists to peer review strategies in an evidence-based and structured format. The PRESS checklist can also act as a helpful tool to guide less confident searchers and non-searchers through the commenting and peer review process
The updated PRESS document "PRESS Peer Review Electronic Search Strategies: 2015 Guideline Explanation and Elaboration (PRESS E&E)" is available from the CADTH website:
The original PRESS Evidence-Based Checklist (EBC) checklist is freely available here:

Scopus discussed

There has been some discussion on the TSC List recently about Scopus and how useful (or not!) it might be for systematic review searching.  The consensus seems to be that it can be helpful for forward and backward citation searching and that it has a broad scope, although the searching interface is not user-friendly and it has difficulty handling long and complex search strings. However, it does include a lot of content available via Embase, so it may be a suitable alternative for people searching for non-RCT studies who do not have access to Embase.  Top tip from Graham Chan – save your search as you go along, as the Scopus platform can be unstable.  Scopus content is available here and Graham has also kindly made his EndNote import filter for Scopus available via the TSC Portal. You can find it as a zipped file under Searching>Searching for Studies>Database search guides.
Thanks to Graham Chan, Claire Twose, Jennifer Lyon and Rene Spijker for their contributions to the TSC list and this section of the newsletter.
Questions from the TSC Support Inbox

Is there anywhere I can find abstracts from the Cochrane Colloquia?

The TSC Support Team were contacted to find out if Colloquia abstracts are stored online, and how TSCs might be able to access them. All oral, poster and workshop presentation abstracts are available via The database is searchable and you can limit the search to a particular colloquium or presentation type. You can also browse by author here. The abstracts date from the 1994 Colloquium in Hamilton, and the Vienna abstracts are already online too.
Easter TSC Support arrangements

TSC Support helpdesk Easter closure

Please note that due to the Easter bank holidays in Canada and the UK, the TSC Support Helpdesk will be closed on Friday 25th March and Monday 28th March. We're open again for your emails on Tuesday 29th March.
Contact us...
Don't forget, previous editions of the TSC Support Team digest are available on the TSC Portal (Archie login required)

Contact the TSC Support Team for help with any TSC related issue (including CRS technical support):
The TSC Support Team:
Liz Doney I Sam Faulkner I Ruth Foxlee
Anne Littlewood I Doug Salzwedel
TSC Support Website
TSC Support Website