About the project
Currently, we identify so-called "randomised controlled trials" (RCT) or "quasi-randomised trials" (CCT) in a large collections of references identified from centralised searches of a number of sources, such as Embase and ClinicalTrials.gov. The identified RCTs and CCT are added to a unique and very important resource in evidence-based health care: the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL). This database helps us to find trials quickly and easily which in turn helps to answer vitally important questions about the effects of a treatment in systematic reviews. The more up-to-date and comprehensive CENTRAL is, the more effective we can be in answering those questions quickly and accurately. Considered as a task on its own, it can be difficult to see just how important it is, but it is fundamental to what Cochrane review authors do. Without identifying the trials, we cannot appraise them, assess them, meta-analyse their data; we cannot accurately answer those questions about the effectiveness of new treatments or interventions. To find out more about CENTRAL and how it is created look here.
How can citizens participate?
In Cochrane Crowd we’re looking for reports of randomised controlled trials (often shortened to RCT) and sometimes also referred to simply as randomised trials, or controlled trials that may have used randomisation or a "quasi-randomisation" technique, such as allocating participants to treatment or placebo based on date of birth (which we refer to as CCT). A randomised controlled trial is a particular way to run a clinical study that involves patients (or sometimes other individuals). The randomised controlled trials that we are interested in are those that are looking to test the effects of an intervention (the intervention might be a drug, a device, a form of therapy etc). The experiment might go like this: a number of people with a similar health condition, for example 100 people with Type 2 diabetes, are recruited into a study. Each person within the study is randomly allocated to the intervention (e.g. a new drug) or a comparator (e.g. a sugar pill/placebo, or quite often just treatment as usual). If the trial is also ‘double-blind’ then the 100 people in the trial don’t know whether they have the new drug or the comparator, and the people giving out the drug (e.g. doctors or nurses) don’t know either. The random allocation and the blinding help make this kind of experiment as fair as possible. If you are interested in finding out more about what a randomised trial is and why it is considered the gold standard way to conduct a clinical trial, view this short video.
What happens with the results?
All screened citations are made available in CENTRAL, Cochrane's database of controlled trials. Screening citations may sound like a very simple and dull task. However, it is a really excellent way to become more familiar with the current biomedical literature and the research that is going on. You will be helping Cochrane in a task that needs doing. Cochrane is an international not-for-profit organisation. Our work is internationally recognised as the benchmark for high quality information about the effectiveness of health care. By helping us, you will become a part of that effort to produce high-quality, relevant, accessible systematic reviews and other synthesised research evidence.