The Cochrane Oral Health Group held an event for their editors and clinical advisors at the Chancellors Hotel in Manchester. Co-ordinating Editors Helen Worthington and Jan Clarkson were the hosts at a tasty dinner on 22nd October, followed by a full day’s training and discussion on Cochrane Methods on 23rd October.
The day kicked off with Managing Editor Luisa Fernandez-Mauleffinch explaining the expectations of the role of an Oral Health Group editor. Editors should have completed a review, be able to attend at least two Cochrane events a year (eg editorial meetings, regional meetings, colloquia, training days), be able to input into the editorial process and act as contact editor for review teams. Luisa explained that contact editors were expected to provide advice through the whole review process, and judge whether the review was ready for peer review. Contact editors should also be able to advise on who should referee the review, look over submitted comments, look at revised reviews and confirm whether the review is ready for final sign-off. Contact editors should look upon themselves as mentors for review teams, particularly inexperienced teams. Luisa welcomed any input from current editors on how the editorial base could help make the process easier. The consensus was that communication from the editorial base could be improved, and that editors would welcome more information on where various review teams were up to in the review process.
Helen Worthington reported back on our last prioritization exercise, in the field of paediatric dentistry. We consulted all the authors of our paediatric reviews and asked them to rank them in terms of importance. Then we conducted two teleconferences with an international expert panel and asked them their opinion of the importance of the reviews and to identify any gaps in our portfolio. Prevention of caries and our reviews on fluoride varnishes, gels, mouthrinses, toothpastes and dental sealants came up as important areas. For treatment of caries, pulp treatment and preoperative analgesics as well as other methods of managing decay were priorities. Gaps in our portfolio were identified as complex interventions for preventing caries, caries diagnosis and management of early carious lesions. A result of the prioritization exercise was the realization that paediatric experts wanted to collaborate with the Oral Health Group over guidelines. We have now set up a guideline repository on our website. We also recognise as a group that we need more involvement in prioritization, from consumers, patients and policy makers.
Helen introduced the Methodological Expectations of Cochrane Intervention Reviews (MECIR), a set of standards for the conduct and reporting of Cochrane reviews. She took us through the concepts and how the standards were developed, and gave us some examples.
Toby Lasserson from the Cochrane Editorial Unit presented some information on the Cochrane screening project. All new reviews are now screened by the Editorial Unit before copyediting and final sign off. The team at the Editorial Unit are looking at particular problem areas, including appropriateness of conclusions, clarity of key messages and consistency between the abstract, the full-text and the plain language summary. Reviews can now be held back if they are incoherent or if there are serious errors in analysis or unjustifiable interpretation of evidence. The focus is very much on identifying and sharing good practice, so that the quality of Cochrane reviews can be continuously improved. Helen commented that to date the Oral Health Group have found the screening process a positive experience, with very helpful comments coming back from the Editorial Unit.
The afternoon session was presented by Cochrane Editors Anne-Marie Glenny, Tanya Walsh and Phil Riley. Using the review Flossing for the management of periodontal diseases and dental caries in adults as an example, they highlighted how to apply MECIR standards to a Cochrane review. Topics covered included how to evaluate an abstract, risk of bias, setting appropriate outcome measures and what to look for in a summary of findings table.
Here are some photos from the dinner, featuring the Oral Health Group heraldic shield competition!