Cochrane Information Specialist Support Team digest
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Issue 25 | June 2017

Halfway through 2017 already - where does the time go! This month we have an update on CRS Web rollout, some information on the recent audit of abstracts and some resources to try out. We're also looking at how to report searches in the Cochrane Register of Studies, and how often to conduct a search for a diagnostic test accuracy review. Stay in touch with us:

CRS Web rollout update

The CIS Support Team and Metaxis have been rolling out Cochrane Register of Studies Web (CRS Web) over the last six months. Almost all Cochrane review groups are now live on the system, or are on the demo version in preparation for moving to the new system.
CRS Web builds on the existing stand-alone desktop CRS, and provides users with lots of new and enhanced features including:
  • Faster search and a clearer interface
  • Connection via the web means real-time access to CRS records and to CENTRAL, with no need to synchronize the database
  • Searching of CENTRAL records, and across group specialised registers within CRS Web (once all groups are live)
  • The ability to screen records in the system using the new triage function, which allows you to move records into folders with one click.
  • The application of machine learning through the Classifier, allowing information specialists to see whether records coming into the CRS from various sources are within their Group’s scope
  • Improved, HarmoniSR-compliant import filters which are customizable for non-core bibliographic fields.
  • Improved deduplication features
  • The ability to track records fully through the review process, and audit what has been sent to authors for each review search
We are planning to close down access to the stand-alone version of the CRS by 31 July 2017. Groups who have not yet moved to CRS Web or who are on the demo version need to begin to make preparations to move their data across to the live version of the system. You can do this by taking the following steps in the stand-alone version:
  1. If you use batches, delete any that you no longer need, as existing batches will be moved across to CRS Web
  2. You can also have your saved searches transferred to CRS Web from standalone, so make sure that you delete any that you no longer need.
  3. Check the personalised import filters you used in stand-alone against those in CRS Web Demo version. Are there any missing for databases that you use? Test the import filters in CRS Web Demo, and if you have mapped private fields for imported data in stand-alone, adapt the existing filters in CRS Web (contact for help with this).
  4. Synchronize
  5. Let the support team know so that Metaxis can build your data set in the live version.
  6. Once live in the CRS Web you will no longer be able to use CRS standalone
The CIS Support Team are here to help during this process. Please let us know of any issues or concerns: We will also be providing further opportunities for you to ask any questions you may have at drop-in webinars over the summer.

CRS Webinars for June

The CIS Support Team and Metaxis are delivering two more CRS “drop in” webinars on Monday 19th June at 10am BST and Friday 30th June at 4pm BST.  These sessions will be hosted via GoToWebinar, and are aimed primarily at those using CRS-W, currently migrating or about to migrate, but anyone is welcome to attend.
If you previously attended a CRS webinar during the rollout of Standalone, we want to clarify that this new series supporting CRSW will be different. We will not be presenting on or demoing a particular functionality of CRSW, instead we would like you to use the sessions to raise any queries you have about the software, or to request demonstrations of specific functionality.  It would be helpful if you could email CIS Support ( in advance of the session with your query or details of what you would like to cover (this can be as general as show me how this feature works, or how do I do X); but we will be happy to cover additional questions that arise during the session.
GoToWebinar software allows multiple people to join a conference call and view a shared computer screen.  Please signup up to the webinars using the link below:
Monday June 19th @10am BST
Friday June 30th @ 4pm BST
In addition to the webinars, a number of short introductory videos on various aspects of working with CRSW are available through the help menu in CRS Web; and recordings of the previous webinars are available here.

Searching and adjacency operators

Jo Elliott reported an issue to the list with searching in CRS Online, which we subsequently found was also happening in CRS Web. Be aware that adjacency operators only work going forwards and not backwards in the text. The CIS Support Team have asked Metaxis to fix this, and this will happen in the next build of CRS Web. For CRS Online, it might be more difficult to fix, but the Metaxis team are investigating. Thanks to Jo for reporting it!
News from the Exec

Audit of abstracts and summary of findings tables

The Exec were recently asked to review the Cochrane Audit of Abstracts and Summaries of Findings Tables. The final document can be found here.

The Cochrane Editorial Unit team analysed the abstracts and summaries of findings tables in the last 5 reviews published by each Cochrane review group, using a checklist. The two main issues of interest to information specialists were reporting of search dates, and the searching of clinical trials registries. No mention of trials registries being searched in the abstract was cited as a feature of lost points in the audit, so CISs should check this during peer review of search methods.

The Systematic Review Accelerator (SRA)

Justin Clark, CIS at the Cochrane ARI Group, got in touch about the Systematic Review Accelerator (SRA). The SRA is a suite of tools designed to speed up the production of Systematic Reviews (SR) developed at the Centre for Research in Evidence Based Practice (CREBP) at Bond University.

The SRA is modular by design, allowing anyone to pick and choose which tools to use without placing any requirements on each user's workflow.

Current SRA tools and features:

De-duplicator - designed to automatically detect and remove duplicates with an optional review stage to ensure there are no mistakes.

Word Frequency Analyser - designed to make building search strategies easier. The word frequency analyser counts the number of unique terms that appear in the title, abstract and keywords of a list of articles so you know which ones you should include in your search strategy.

Polyglot Search Syntax Translator - allows the researcher to write an Ovid Medline or PubMed search strategy and convert it to any of the other major health databases search formats.

EndNote Helper - a companion application to the desktop EndNote software, EndNote Helper allows a researcher to use hotkeys to quickly assign references to a group in EndNote to make screening for a SR easier. The tool can also run a search for articles in various locations, such as Google Scholar and PubMed, using a single keyboard press to speed up the process of finding full-text articles.

All of the tools are free, although to access some you will need to create an account. Ideas to improve the tools are welcome as are any offers of collaboration for future tools.

Try it out

Wayback Machine

The Support Team were contacted recently and asked if there was a way to find papers that had been cited in an old version of a review, but were no longer on the web. This was particularly with regard to technical reports cited in the review background, which may get removed from the web but which a new author team might like to access.

Thanks to Elizabeth Royle from the copy edit team, who reminded us about the Wayback Machine, an internet archive which helps you to retrieve old links. If you have an old link you want to look at, you can try it out here.


Joshua Cheyne, the CIS at the Cochrane Stroke Group got in touch about OpenDOAR, a resource which aggregates the content of institutional repositories. It is operated by the Centre for Research Communication and hosted by the University of Nottingham in the UK. OpenDOAR lets you search the contents of the repositories listed on the database for freely available academic research information. Full texts are available for most results. Have a look here. Thanks to Josh for the tip!

PubMed Commons Blog Post

Maria-Inti Metzendorf highlighted a new post on the PubMed Commons blog that might be of interest to Cochrane Information Specialists. It looks at critiquing systematic review searches on PubMed. Read it here. Thanks to Maria-Inti, and do let us know if there are any articles of interest that you'd like us to feature in future digests.
Questions from the helpdesk

How do I report a search done in CENTRAL via the Cochrane Register of Studies rather than in the Cochrane Library?

As you can publish a record to CENTRAL at any point in CRS Web, it does not have an issue number in the same way as CENTRAL via the Cochrane Library. We would recommend that you report a search as:

the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL; via the Cochrane Register of Studies, searched [day month year])

The issue number and year should only be reported if the search is done in Wiley's Cochrane Library interface.

You can find our recommended best practice templates for writing up the search methods sections of reviews on the CIS Portal.

Is there an equivalent of MECIR standards for Diagnostic Test Accuracy (DTA) reviews, and how up-to-date should the search be when a DTA review is published?

Currently there are no MECIR equivalent standards for DTA reviews, so we sought advice from Anne Eisinga from Cochrane UK, who has previously been involved in training Cochrane information specialists in DTA searching, when seconded as information specialist to the Cochrane DTA Regional Support Unit based at Birmingham University.
She tells us that the Cochrane DTA Working Group did not set a policy on this issue. The general consensus was that where possible you should follow the same standards as for intervention reviews (ie the MECIR standards), but with the understanding that a more pragmatic approach may be required because of the complexity of DTA reviews and the specific challenges involved in retrieving difficult to locate studies, often returning large data sets to screen. Anne suggests one approach might be to run the top-up search within the MECIR standard timescale. State that you have done so in the text, and that there are X number of results being screened; and if studies are found that are likely to change the results, an expedited update will be forthcoming. She also suggests that as part of this statement you might like to invite the reader,in the meantime, to let you (the authors) know of any relevant studies, not yet included,that are known to them and that you would be grateful to receive details of these.

She suggests that Groups might also wish to explore seeking help from Cochrane Crowd to expedite the screening process for large data sets to help the results of top-up searches to be integrated in the review in a timely way.
Thanks to Anne for her expertise and advice.
Contact us...
Don't forget, previous editions of the Cochrane Information Specialist Support Team digest are available on the CIS Portal

Contact the Support Team for help with any Cochrane Information Specialist related issue (including CRS technical support):
The Cochrane Information Specialist Support Team:
Charlene Bridges | Sam Cox I Ruth Foxlee
Anne Littlewood I Doug Salzwedel
Cochrane Information Specialist Support Website
Cochrane Information Specialist Support Website

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