Updating policy up to 31 March 2023

The Editorial Board will assess the need for the updating of reviews on a case-by-case basis. Whilst appreciating the need for regular updates of many reviews and setting a two-yearly update schedule as standard, we also acknowledge that, for a variety of reasons, some reviews will need to be updated more or less frequently than others. The Editorial Board will therefore work with review authors to establish the frequency with which the individual reviews should be updated. This should reflect, amongst other things, the current relevancy of the intervention(s) considered within each review and the volume of research being undertaken in this area.

(a) In particularly topical review areas, as identified by the Editorial Board, authors may be asked to update whenever important new trial data become available. The Trials Search Co-ordinator (TSC) will run a search of the relevant trials register every 6 or 12 months, as appropriate.

(b) Reviews which are currently relevant, and where, e.g. trials continue to be carried out to identify optimum treatment regimens, will be scheduled for update every two years. This may be changed, at the discretion of the Editorial Base, dependant on the relevancy of the intervention(s) and the volume of research being undertaken.

In both of the above scenarios, we plan to include a list of ongoing trials in reviews and will ask review authors to state within their review when the next update will be completed given the scheduled publication of new trial data.

(c) In reviews of treatments or treatment regimens which are no longer used as standard practice or where a definitive answer to a question has been established (as agreed between Editorial Board and review authors), the Contact Editor and the review authors will agree a closing statement to be published in a final version of the review (subject to final approval from the Editorial Board). For these reviews,, although the TSC will still run searches on a bi-annual basis and only if follow-up data of already included studies or new evidence become available will the review be fully updated. If no new information is identified, only the search date in the review will be updated. For all of the above, when updates are due, the TSC will run the search of the relevant trials register and the Managing Editor will contact authors with details as necessary. The editorial process for updating will follow the same procedure as for new reviews.

Replacement author teams
Should a lead author resign from a review or protocol, in the first instance the editorial board will approach the co-authors to ask if any of them are prepared to lead on the review. If a lead author is not identified in this way, or if the whole review team steps down,  the Contact Editor and the Managing Editor will aim to identify potential alternative review author(s).  If a suitable review team is not identified, the protocol or review will be withdrawn from The Cochrane Library until a new team is in place.