Author resources for REVIEW UPDATES

Updating your review

We have a policy for review updates, whereby existing review teams need to complete an update proposal form justifying why the update is needed.  Proposals are discussed at monthly editorial meetings where a decision is made about whether the review update is justified, for example – is the question topic at the present time; is it needed to inform a local or national clinical or practice guideline; is there evidence of ongoing uncertainty and the potential that new evidence will change practice?  Review updates can only proceed if the proposal is approved.

You can access our review proposal form for existing reviews here

You will also need to send us a separate document in which you lay out your plans for data and analysis (including any planned subgroup analysis) - an example document is available here

What happens next?

Once an update proposal has been approved, the update process can begin.  We will arrange for our Information Specialist to run an updated search of the PCG Trials Register and add the results (references) to the RevMan file.  We will also check the file and make edits to incorporate updated methods text or add helpful prompts.

All review updates must be developed using Review Manager (RevMan) - Information about both RevMan 5 and RevMan Web can be found here

Cochrane Handbook and the Cochrane Style Manual

The Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions is the official document that describes in details the process of preparing and maintaining Cochrane systematic reviews.  Cochrane reviews should also follow the style described in the Cochrane Style Manual.  The 'Related Resources' sidebar on this page explains how you can find examples of our reviews in The Cochrane Library.

Methodological Expectations of Cochrane Intervention Reviews (MECIR)

The Cochrane Collaboration’s Methodological Expectations of Cochrane Intervention Reviews (MECIR) project has developed two sets of standards for the conduct and reporting of Cochrane reviews of interventions. When developing your new review please refer to these standards.  For more information, see

GRADE and Summary of findings table

In your updated review you will need to use the GRADE approach (using GRADEpro GDT software) to assess the quality of the evidence and prepare a Summary of findings (SoF) table to import into your review.  We have produced our own 'quick guide' to using GRADE and preparing a SoF table and below you can find three other documents that you will find useful.

Miranda Cumpston (Head of Learning and Support, Cochrane Central Executive) has also suggested the following useful links.

  • The McMaster GRADE YouTube channel - (there is also a link to this when you first log into GDT) has lots of videos - we suggest you watch the 'SoF table generation' video, as it follows the format we use for Cochrane reviews. Note that this doesn't demonstrate importing data from RevMan, although it shows you the button to click in order to do that.
  • An interactive walkthrough is available in GDT from the 'Help' button (small question mark in a circle, top right).
  • More detailed information on what the tables are for and what needs to go into them can be found in the Cochrane Handbook (see chapters 11 and 12) and in the GRADE handbook (also available from the GRADEpro GDT help menu). 

Plain Language Expectations for Authors of Cochrane Summaries (PLEACS)

The Cochrane Collaboration has developed Plain Language Expectations for Authors of Cochrane Summaries (PLEACS) standards.  These standards refer to the key information that should be included in your Plain Language Summary, in plain English. Please refer to these standards when preparing your Plain Language Summary.  For more information, see


A Cochrane proposal, protocol and review should be an original piece of work produced by the team of review authors.  Where review authors report other sources, this should include an appropriate citation and be paraphrased in the review authors’ own words rather than copied word-for-word from the original source.  Where more than a few words of the original text is used this should be placed within quotation marks and a citation provided to demonstrate where the text has been taken from.  Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth now use formal plagiarism software to detect plagiarism at all stages of a Cochrane review.  The Cochrane Collaboration has a policy relating to plagiarism, how to avoid it, and what happens when plagiarism is suspected – for more information, click here.

Where do I find out about training workshops and other sources of support?

Cochrane training workshops are available to help you develop your updated review.  If you are a registered Cochrane author you can also access the online learning resources for undertaking a systematic review.

Data extraction sheets

Data extraction sheets are an essential part of the quality control of Cochrane reviews (as well as essential information for authors who take over the updating of reviews).  We now request that the Contact person for full reviews email their final and agreed data extraction sheets to either the person at the editorial office responsible for the editorial processing of their review (Frances or Leanne) or Denise after checking their review in to Archie for editorial approval. We will then upload the data extraction sheet to the Review Files folder for the review in Archie – click here to download a screenshot showing you how to access the Review Files folder for your review in Archie. Please note that both the authors and the editors for the review will have access to the Data Extraction Sheets folder in Archie.

Please note that although we would prefer the full data extraction sheet for updated reviews, we realise that in many cases this may not be possible and you may only be able to send us the data extraction sheet for the newly incorporated trials.

Additional material relating to trial reports

It is important that if authors obtain additional material relating to trial reports through, for example, contact with trialists, please email the additional material to our Information Specialist, Lynn Hampson ( so we can keep the additional information with the record for the trial.

Other important resources 

Additional information
Eligibility criteria
- please remember that if a study meets your inclusion criteria for your review, but does not report on the outcomes of interest, the trial must be included (although it will not contribute any data to your review).  Trial eligibility criteria are prespecified in your protocol in the sections on 'participants', 'interventions' and 'comparisions'. See section 5.1.2 of the Cochrane Handbook for more information.