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The Cochrane Library is a collection of databases in medicine and other healthcare specialties provided by the Cochrane Collaboration and other organisations. At its core is the collection of Cochrane Reviews, a database of systematic reviews and meta-analyses which summarise and interpret the results of high-quality medical research. The Cochrane Library aims to make the results of well-conducted controlled trials readily available and is a key resource in evidence-based medicine.

Access and use

The Cochrane Library is a subscription-based database, originally published by Update Software and now part of the Wiley Interscience system. In many countries, including the United Kingdommarker, Irelandmarker, the countries of Scandinavia, New Zealandmarker, Australia, Indiamarker, South Africa and Polandmarker it has been made available free to all residents by "national provision". There are also arrangements for free access in much of Latin America and in "low-income countries", typically via HINARI. All countries have free access to two-page abstracts of all Cochrane Reviews and to short plain-language summaries of selected articles.

Cochrane reviews appear to be relatively underused in the United States, presumably because public access is limited (the state of Wyomingmarker is an exception, having arranged for free Cochrane materials access).

Contents

The Cochrane Library consists of the following databases:
  • The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (Cochrane Reviews)
  • The Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE)
  • The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL)
  • The Cochrane Database of Methodology Reviews (Methodology Reviews)
  • The Cochrane Methodology Register (Methodology Register)
  • Health Technology Assessment Database (HTA)
  • NHS Economic Evaluation Database (NHS EED)


The Cochrane Reviews, CENTRAL, Methodology Reviews and Methodology Register are produced by the Cochrane Collaboration. DARE, HTA and NHS EED are compiled and maintained by the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination.

Locating studies

Cochrane reviewers locate studies for inclusion in a Cochrane Review by several means:
  • searching electronic databases such as MEDLINE (PubMed) and EMBASE;
  • maintaining and searching a database of controlled trials, the so-called Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL);
  • "handsearching", e.g., by looking though page-by-page entire contents of scientific journals (though this is now usually done electronically, and not "by hand");
  • checking the reference lists of the obtained articles.
Included studies are not necessarily only published studies or studies indexed by MEDLINE: limiting the inclusion in this way would make the review subject to publication bias.

Academic comments

The Cochrane Library Feedback tool allows users to provide comments onand feedback of Cochrane Reviews and Protocols in The CochraneLibrary. If accepted, the feedback will be published in a scrollinglist of comments in reverse chronological order, with the most recentsubmission at the top of the page. The Collaboration has a procedure for the event of serious error, an event which has only occurred once in the history of the Collaboration.

References

  1. Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions 4.2.6, September 2006
  2. The Cochrane Collaboration. The Cochrane Manual Issue 1, 2008, section 2.2.5.4 COCHRANE LIBRARY FEEDBACK HOUSE RULES [updated 15 November 2007]. (http://www.cochrane.org/admin/manual.htm) (accessed 12 December 2007)
  3. Procedures to be followed in the event of serious errors in published Cochrane reviews


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