Would you like an elephant with your evidence?

The GooniesOnce upon a time, a strange breed of people called ‘systematic reviewers’ used to shut themselves away in dark places, work very hard and for a long time, and eventually slide underneath their door their mysterious product, a shiny new systematic review. This would be taken and stored very carefully, and very secretly, in a document (let’s call it a scientific journal) which could only be seen and understood by those with enough gold to pass through the paywall and who knew the meaning of the special and secret words used in it. Which was all rather a shame as the contents were often quite precious and could be very useful to large numbers of ordinary people. For anyone wanting a neat graphic showing what a systematic review is, I recommend you click here. For those wanting elephants, you’ll have to wait a bit longer. Continue reading

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Out of the ivory tower and into the crowds: how social media has transformed academic conferences

What a week it’s been here in Oxford for an evidence nerd like me! First, two days of brilliant presentations, stimulating debate and some tasty and reassuringly-managable food that could be eaten standing up, without fear of finding I’d been talking to Ben Goldacre with a piece of coleslaw draped over my conference badge (I suspect he’d have been merciless). That was our Cochrane UK and Ireland 21st Anniversary Symposium, in which both ‘Cochranites’ and those not involved in the Collaboration (gasp!) gathered to discuss the challenges of the changing healthcare landscape and particularly what Cochrane might do to meet them. Hard on its heels and before we’d had time to set about changing the world, came another fabulous two day evidence-fest, Evidence Live, aimed at ‘everyone with an interest in evidence-based healthcare’. Thanks to social media, large numbers of those people were able to join in as virtual participants at both events and they certainly did! Continue reading