EPOC editorial process

Review registration

Before proposing a title with the Cochrane Effective  Practice & Organisation of Care (EPOC) Group, authors should see the resource "Minimum requirements for registration of a title with EPOC".

Authors should also be aware of the Criteria for rejecting / de-registering a protocol submitted to EPOC and the Criteria for rejecting a review submitted to EPOC.

To propose a title for an EPOC review, authors submit a Review Proposal Form outlining the details of the proposed review. All authors listed on the form are required to sign it and confirm that they can commit sufficient time to contribute to the review.

The form is first reviewed by the Managing Editor and at least one EPOC Editor. If it is determined that the proposed review is not within the scope of EPOC or there is overlap with another review, then the authors are informed. If additional input is required, then it is evaluated by one or more EPOC editors.

Once all concerns are addressed and the editors are happy with the proposal, the title is accepted for registration with EPOC.

After a title is registered, a Contact Editor is assigned to each protocol. The role of the Contact Editor is to provide support to the author team and to decide when the protocol is ready for peer review as well as to approve the final protocol for publication in The Cochrane Library.

EPOC reviews are managed through the main EPOC editorial base in Oxford. Reviews that address health systems questions relevant to low- and middle-income countries are managed by the EPOC Norwegian Satellite and reviews of interventions relevant to Australia and the South East Asia region are managed by the EPOC Australian Satellite.

Protocol

EPOC support to authors
Authors preparing an EPOC protocol and review are strongly encouraged to read the EPOC-specific resources for authors.

Authors should communicate with the Contact Editor or the Managing Editor about any problems that they may have while preparing the protocol. Support is also available from the EPOC statistical editors for any questions that review authors may have about the methods and planned analyses for the review. The EPOC Trial Search Co-ordinator should be contacted to discuss the search process for the review.

Submission of draft protocol
It is expected that a draft protocol will be submitted to the editorial base within 6 months of registration of the title. The EPOC editorial base should be informed of any delays completing the protocol.

Editorial review
After submission for editorial review, the protocol will first be assessed by the Managing Editor and the Contact Editor and comments will be returned to the authors. Authors are asked to respond to each of the comments from the Managing Editor and Contact Editor and submit a revised protocol.

Peer review
The Contact Editor decides when the protocol is ready for peer review. Protocols are peer reviewed by one EPOC editor, EPOC Statistical editor, EPOC Economics Editor (if necessary), EPOC Trial Search Co-ordinator, and one external peer reviewer.

All peer review comments are compiled and sent to the authors. Authors are expected to respond to each of the comments and submit a revised protocol for editorial approval.

Publication of final protocol
Once the protocol has been revised and the authors have addressed all of the peer review comments to the satisfaction of the Contact Editor, the protocol is submitted to Cochrane copy-editing. When copy-edits are complete and authors have approved the final version, it is then marked for publication in The Cochrane Library. The protocol is not released for publication until all authors have completed the “License for publication forms” via Archie.

Review

EPOC support to authors
Authors preparing an EPOC review are strongly encouraged to read the EPOC-specific resources for authors. Authors should continue to communicate with the Contact Editor or the Managing Editor about any problems that they may have while preparing their review. Support is also available from the EPOC statistical editors for any questions that review authors may have about the methods or analyses.

Submission of draft review
It is expected that a draft review will be submitted to the editorial base within 12 months of publication of the protocol. The EPOC editorial base should be informed of any delays in completing the review.

Editorial review
After submission for editorial review, the review is first assessed by the Managing Editor and the Contact Editor and comments returned to the authors. Authors are asked to respond to each of the comments from the Managing Editor and Contact Editor and submit a revised review.

Peer review
Once the review is revised to the satisfaction of the Contact Editor, it is then sent for peer review. Reviews are peer reviewed by an additional EPOC editor, EPOC Statistical editor, EPOC Economics Editor (if necessary), EPOC Trials Search Co-ordinator, and two external peer reviewers.

All peer review comments are compiled and sent to the authors. Authors are expected to respond to each of the comments and submit a revised review for editorial approval.

Publication of final review
The Contact Editor approves the final protocol for publication. In some instances, an additional EPOC editor will be assigned the role of Referee Editor to determine if the peer review comments have been addressed and the review revised accordingly.

After the review is approved for publication, it is submitted to Cochrane copy-editing.  When copy-edits are complete and authors have approved the final version, it is then marked for publication in The Cochrane Library. The review is not released for publication until all authors have completed the “License for publication forms” via Archie.

Updates

Authors are expected to update their reviews every two years, and as quickly as possible in response to criticisms. If a review author team is unable to maintain a review, the EPOC editors will discuss with the authors transferring the review to other review author(s) to ensure an up-to-date review.

Preparing for the update

When an EPOC review has been published for two years, the Contact Editor assigned to the review will complete a checklist to determine whether an update is feasible and if the current author team has the resources to update. The contact editor will also determine if it is likely that major changes to the review methods will be needed (e.g., because of changes in recommended methods within Cochrane or EPOC), which might warrant an updated protocol.

Major changes to the review methods

If the Contact Editor determines that major changes to the review methods are warranted, then the review authors will be asked to submit a full revised protocol for the review. The methods section of the previous version of the review should be copied into a Word document and edited using track changes. The revised protocol will be reviewed by the editorial team, and may be sent for external peer review, but will not be published as a new protocol in the Cochrane Library. Once the revised protocol is approved, it will be added as an appendix to the current published version of the review with a note that the review is currently being updated. An amendment to the current review will then be published in the Cochrane Library.

Minor changes

If only minor changes are necessary, the review authors will be asked to respond to suggestions from the Contact Editor in the checklist. The checklist will be uploaded as a file to Archie.

Editorial review
After submission for editorial review, the updated review is first assessed by the Managing Editor and the Contact Editor and comments returned to the authors. Authors are asked to respond to each of the comments from the ME and Contact Editor and submit a revised review.

Peer review
Once the review is revised to the satisfaction of the Contact Editor, it is then sent for peer review. Reviews are peer reviewed by an additional EPOC editor, EPOC Statistical editor, EPOC Economics Editor (if necessary), and EPOC Trial Search Co-ordinator. If more than three new studies are identified for an updated review then the Contact Editor will decide if the review should be externally peer reviewed. If there are new analyses, new methods or a change to conclusions then full peer review may be recommended.

All peer review comments are compiled and sent to the authors. Authors are expected to respond to each of the comments and submit a revised review for editorial approval.

Publication of updated review
The Contact Editor approves the final updated review for publication. In some instances, an additional EPOC editor will be assigned the role of Referee Editor to determine if the peer review comments have been addressed and the review revised accordingly.

After the review is approved for publication, it is submitted to Cochrane copy-editing.  When copy-edits are complete and authors have approved the final version, it is then marked for publication in The Cochrane Library. The review is not released for publication until all authors have completed the “License for publication forms” via Archie.