Cochrane: a quick and dirty summary

by EdoArad1 min read14th Jul 20192 comments


Social and intellectual movements

I found myself reading into Cochrane, and will try in 10 minutes to make a summary of what I've gathered.

So Cochrane is a group of independent researchers, professionals, patients and others that are interested in health, organized by a non-profit with the same name. They are doing systemic reviews on health related research, and have a strict methodology which is considered a "gold standard".

Their mission is to put Cochrane evidence at the heart of health decision-making all over the world. Other then putting out many such systemic reviews, they also advocate, give tools and tutorials, and build a community in which random people can help with generating more systemic reviews.

I was struck by how much their goal resembles the EA goal of improving philanthropy (and probably also of improving evidence based policies), at least on the methodological side. They seem very successful, and I wonder what we can learn from them. I am specifically interested in their community aspect - it seems like they have some sort of methodology and tools that allow non-experts to contribute well.

Also, to glance at the ancient history, look up "the worm wars". :)

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Cochrane is an important potential ally to EA. I'm technically a Cochrane author after being part of a team that submitted a review protocol, though I haven't been closely following their work over the past couple of years. Cochrane has traditionally been strong on evidence-based medicine and treatments, i.e., drugs. They have expanded in recent years to cover other important topics as well.

The typical Cochrane review is first proposed by a team of researchers in a protocol. The protocol is considered by a Cochrane Review Group ( and moves forward from there.

The general public may be able to participate through various crowdsourcing efforts managed by Cochrane. A quick summary of those ways to get involved is here:

The Cochrane Handbook is a great resource on evaluating research evidence and conducting systematic reviews. It is available online:

So that took 18 minutes... Spent a lot of time on making sure I'm not making important mistakes and to make it as readable as I could. Would it be valuable if it was even less readable and more likely to contain mistakes?