Cochrane Colorectal Group Editorial Process

Registering a title

To register a title with Cochrane Colorectal Group (CCG), please download the Title registration form or request a copy from the editorial office. Please have in mind that there are two different registration forms; one for Intervention Reviews and one for Diagnostic Test Accurary Reviews.

It is mandatory that the registration form includes full contact details for all authors, a preliminary title, a synopsis (100-200 words) describing background and rationale for the review, inclusion criteria, outcomes and comparisons. Cochrane Colorectal Group also asks for a "scoping literature search" and an estimated number of trials to support the review.

Please be advised that Cochrane Colorectal Group do not accept a systematic review with a single author.

The outlined review proposal will initially be evaluated by the Editorial Group using the following criteria:

  • The topic of the review is within the scope of Cochrane Colorectal Group, clinically relevant and addressing an important uncertainty;
  • The topic is not covered for in other reviews published with Cochrane Colorectal Group or elsewhere within Cochrane;
  • The rationale for doing the review is clear and well-grounded (focused question (PICOs) and methodology);
  • Completion of the review appears feasible; and
  • The author team has the requisite expertise to undertake the review and is committed to keeping the review up to date.

If additional information is required, other Cochrane Colorectal Group Editors will be involved in the evaluation. Once the form is generally accepted by the Cochrane Colorectal Group Editorial Group, official registration will proceed. Disagreements will be solved in consensus within the Cochrane Colorectal Group, and if agreement cannot be reached, the Co-ordinating Editor will make a decision based upon comments received.

Important notice to authors: We have to emphasize that submission of a proposal does not mean that the title automatically will be registered by the Cochrane Colorectal Group or elsewhere within Cochrane. Review titles are accepted for registration once valid criticisms have been addressed to the satisfaction by the authors, potential collaboration with other Cochrane groups has been clarified, and finally, editorial comments have been added.

Once the proposed title has been approved by the Cochrane Colorectal Group and registered, authors have accepted the outlined terms for working in the Cochrane Colorectal Group below. The Cochrane Colorectal Group and Office reserve the rights to reject review titles at any stage in the process if it fails to meet the required standards thus judged not to be acceptable for publication in the Cochrane Library.

If similar reviews are proposed by two review teams, collaboration may be offered, otherwise, the Coordinating editors will determine who will perform the review.

Cochrane Colorectal Group appoints a contact author as stated in the title registration form. This contact author now holds the primary responsibility for the review throughout the entire process. Once registered, the CCG editorial office will establish the necessary access to Archie for all authors.

The contact author will receive a CCG welcome package on how to get started, including documents on Cochrane style basics, managing expectations, the required methodological expectations (MECIR) and a checklist to be used prior to protocol submission.
The contact author is obliged to secure progress and is responsible for the submission of a first draft protocol within 3 months from registration. CCG will remind the contact author 2 months after registration. If the author team then fails to produce a draft protocol for editorial consideration within the outlined 3 months, CCG reserve the right to withdraw the author team from the title without further notice.

It is mandatory that review authors use the most recent version of the Review Manager (RevMan) software for writing and the Cochrane interface 'Archie' for storing documents. The CCG editorial office reserves the right to reject other versions.

Protocols

CCG Support to authors

Prior to finalizing the draft protocol, CCG will support the authors on:

  • Review Manager software support and Archie support if needed;
  • Methodological support (limited resources); and
  • Guidance in preparation of the protocol in accordance with the required MECIR standards for conducting the review, forwarded the Contact author upon acceptance of the title and which authors are expected to follow (http://www.editorial-unit.cochrane.org/mecir)

Furthermore, Cochrane provides additional training and learning for authors in methods required to write Cochrane sytematic reviews (http://training.cochrane.org/)

Authors are given the opportunity to communicate with the Contact Editor or Managing Editor about any problems they may have while preparing the protocol.

Submission of the protocol draft

It is expected that a draft protocol will be submitted to the CCG Editorial Office within 3 months of registration of the title. If a draft protocol, information on progress in general, or a plausible explanation for the delay is not forwarded CCG within 3 months, the Managing Editor will inform the Contact author that the title will be withdrawn from our internal title manager system without further notice. The title will, however, remain in the CCG internal files, open for other interested authors. If handed over to another research team, the title will be re-registered by the CCG Editorial Office on identical terms to newly appointed author teams.

Editorial review

After submission of a draft protocol for editorial review, the protocol will first be assessed by the Managing Editor and the Contact Editor appointed and comments will be returned to the authors.

The appointed Contact Editor will be a member of the CCG Editorial Board with experience in Cochrane methodology and who is able to provide methodological and clinical advice. The CCG Editorial Office checks the draft for accuracy and whether it follows the required standards (MECIR conducting standards). Authors are asked to respond to each of the comments (point by point) in a covering letter and to submit a revised protocol within 4 weeks.

When authors submit the first draft in Archie for editorial evaluation, 4-5 weeks of editorial processing is to be expected. However, this may vary and we will keep you updated! Please make sure the draft is checked in for "editorial mode" in Archie. Please be aware that the draft will be locked for check out while being evaluated, so authors must not work on a parallel version.

Peer-review

The Contact Editor decides when the protocol is ready for peer-review. Protocols are peer-reviewed by 2-3 external peer-reviewers, at least one with methodological/statistical expertise.

CCG asks for the peer-reviewers to evaluate and comment on:

  • Relevance and demarcation of the review question;
  • The methodology;
  • The search strategy for identification of trials; and
  • The language and scope of the first draft protocol.

Evaluations from peer-reviewers will be submitted to the CCG Editorial Office and forwarded the Contact Editor for final revision and who will compile the comments. The authors are asked to respond to each comment point by point in a covering letter, which will be sent to the appointed Contact Editor and any peer-referees who wants to see the draft again prior to publication.

If the authors do not reply to the editorial comments within 4-6 weeks, the status of the protocol might be converted to a title (if no progress seem plausible), and the Contact author will receive a reminder. Hereafter the title will be open for other interested research teams. This procedure is to avoid dormant titles; titles which are occupied but without any progress toward publication.

The Contact Editor is asked to evaluate the amended version and return it once again to the CCG for an editorial decision to accept, amend or reject the protocol. This revision will be done within two weeks upon receipt. Due to limited resources, we have to emphasize that we can't accept multiple submissions.

Publication of final protocol

Upon final acceptance and sign off by the Contact Editor, the protocol will be submitted to Cochrane copy-editing (Copy Edit Support) prior to publication in The Cochrane Library. Authors have been asked to sign a Declaration of Interest form. Please also be advised that the Licence for Publication Forms is mandatory prior to publication for all authors. There are no fixed deadlines for submission to The Cochrane Library.

The CCG Editorial Board and Office reserve the rights not to publish a protocol for a given issue of the Cochrane Library if it fails to meet the required standards, thus judged not to be acceptable for publication. Furthermore, publication will be postponed if the mandatory declarations haven't been signed by all authors in the byline.

For all review titles not yet published in the Cochrane Library, CCG considers these as titles, even though a protocol has been submitted. This means that a peer-reviewed protocol, which has been evaluated and returned with comments from the editorial team will be considered for withdrawal from the official title manager system if the authors do not return an amended version within the given deadlines to CCG. This is again to avoid dormant titles. If a published protocol become out-of-date, usually after more than two years in the Cochrane Library, without authors reporting progress, or a plausible explanation for the delay, the CCG Editorial Board and Office will decide on appropriate steps and will inform the authors. Heavily out-of-date protocols will be withdrawn or asked for a timelier update.

Reviews

CCG Support to authors

The authors now proceed with developing the full review. CCG will support the authors on:

  • Running searches providing authors with a full reference list of potential eligible studies (please note that searches will not be performed before authors have initiated the review, as it is the authors' responsibility to submit a review draft within 12 months);
  • Identification of trials from the Specialised Register (SR);
  • Review Manager software support and Archie support if needed;
  • Methodological support (limited resources);
  • Guidance on finishing the review in accordance with MECIR reporting standards, forwarded the Contact editor upon publication of the protocol and which the authors are expected to follow (http://editorial-unit.cochrane.org/mecir); and
  • Cochrane provides additional training and learning for authors in methods required to write systematic reviews (http://training.cochrane.org/authors).

Authors are welcome to approach the Contact Editor of CCG Editorial Office for any questions they might have regarding the review process or problems arisen in the process.

Submission of review draft

Once the protocol  is published, CCG normally asks for a draft review within 12 months (depending on the workload of the authors). When this comprehensive work is finished, it is mandatory for authors to use validation checks/checklists prior to submission of the draft for editorial approval in Archie.

Editorial review

After submission for editorial review, the review is first evaluated by the Managing Editor and the Contact Editor and comments are returned to the authors.

Peer-review

Once the review is revised to the satisfaction of the Contact Editor, it is sent to peer-review. The CCG Editorial team for the review is normally identical to the one appointed for the protocol (but changes might occur), and the evaluation process in general follows the one described for the protocol.

Regarding the revision of the full review, special attention is drawn to:

  • MECIR reporting standards;
  • Statistical methods;
  • Result section and evaluation of included trials (Risk of bias Tables);
  • Discussion and interpretation of results;
  • Conclusions; and
  • Consistency throughout the review.

If differences of opinion amongst the editors/referees are substantial, correspondance between the involved parties may be necessary and maybe also to consult external expert opinions as well. The CCG Editorial Office will co-ordinate this correspondance. We aim for feedback to be returned to the CCG Editorial Office within 4-6 weeks. The Contact author will receive these comments.

When the authors have amended the review, with a covering letter on each comment point by point, the Contact Editor (and peer-referees wanting to see the review again) will return the evaluation to the CCG Editorial Office for final acceptance. Final editorial revision should be conducted within two weeks.

Publication of final review

The Contact Editor approves the final review for publication. Hereafter, the review will be submitted to Cochrane copy-editing. Then copy-editing is completed and authors have approved the final review version, the review is marked for publication in the Cochrane Library. The review is not released for publication until all authors have completed the License for Publication forms. There are no fixed deadlines for submission to the Cochrane Library.

As for protocols, please be advised that the CCG Editorial Board and Office reserves the rights to reject a review if judged not acceptable for publication in the Cochrane Library, or received multiple submissions not meeting the required standards. CCG will postpone the review publication if authors do not meet the scheduled deadlines, or in case if missing signatures.

The overall time schedule for preparing a systematic review is estimated 12-18 months.

After publication of the review, incoming criticism and questions will be coordinated by an appointed Feedback Editor elected among the CCG Editorial Board. The elected Feedback Editor cannot be the same as the appointed Contact Editor.

Review updates 

Authors are expected to update their review every two years, or to maintain them in response to criticisms or the identification of additional references. It is the authors' responsibility to make sure the updated review complies with the mandatory Cochrane standards.

For out-of-date protocols in the Cochrane Library overtaken by a new research team, CCG Editorial Office will ask for an update of the background and rationale, including more up-to-date references highlighting the clinical questions and dogmas.

CCG Support to authors

The CCG Editorial Office will support authors on updating searches, however, authors have the full responsibility for additional inclusion of trials and updating the review.

Authors are welcome to approach the Contact Editor og CCG Editorial Office for any questions they might have regarding the review process or problems arisen in the process.

Editorial review

After submission of the updated review, the review is first assessed by the Managing Editor and the appointed Contact Editor and comments are returned to authors. Authors are asked to respond to each comment point by point and submit a revised review.

In general, minor changes are corrected for in agreement with the authors, Contact Editor and CCG Editorial Office. Upon substantial changes in the review update, the appointed Contact Editor will decide the recommended evaluation process. Changes to outcome results, implications or other sections of the review leads to an evaluation by all members of the appointed editorial team (as for the review).