How do the study-based registers reduce waste in systematic reviewing?
Adams, Clive E.
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Background: Study-based registers are one of the oldest living tools used in preparation of systematic reviews/overviews, and are maintained by a Cochrane Information Specialist. These registers remove the burden of searching, de-duplicating and screening the search results, obtaining the full texts, assembling the separate reports of the same study as one study, and eligibility checking of the studies from the review teams’ shoulders. As an advantage, the register reduces the time and resource waste facilitating the prioritisation of new review titles and updates informing the team about the workload of each task within minutes - if not seconds - which is a necessary step in grant application and initiation of a systematic review plan. Objectives: We share our experience of using study-based register for a grant application and its advantages and disadvantages for all steps of systematic reviews, including workload estimation. Methods: We share the developed process (algorithm) used in the Cochrane Schizophrenia Group, using a study-based register of trials supported by real world results, to apply for a grant and conduct nine relevant systematic reviews of tardive dyskinesia. This register has been maintained on MeerKat 1.6, a free Microsoft Access-based program, for over two decades, and the recent developments allow rapid identification of exact number of studies related to a review question in seconds. Results: We used this process to present the process and its results from the tardive dyskinesia project. As part of the presentation, we will show video clips in which the process has been documented. Conclusions: Study-based registers are milestones for development and rapid prioritisation of systematic reviews without affecting the quality of the results. Funders could support development of such registers as part of all biomedical research involving an Information Specialist in the research team. Patient or healthcare consumer involvement: Many reviewers in Cochrane are patients or healthcare consumers who spend their time on certain steps of systematic review. We explain how using a study-based register saves their time/money so that they can start a systematic review with data extraction or meta-analysis.