Get involved

There are a number of ways in which you can participate in the Cochrane Skin Group (CSG):

Join a review team

Authors work in multidisciplinary teams to produce high-quality reviews, which they pledge to keep up to date. Author teams comprise of the following:

  • a lead author - this is the person who co-ordinates the work of the team, allocates tasks, and attends to the time deadlines agreed with the editorial base; and
  • co-authors - there are several different co-author roles within a Cochrane review team. There is generally one team member who works very closely with the lead author; this is generally hard work but a great learning experience. There may be a senior clinical author who will not contribute so much in terms of time but will guide the team in terms of clinical knowledge. There will be a statistician or methodology author who will attend to the planning of the data section of the protocol and the analysis of the data in the results of the review. There will also be a consumer co-author who will make sure the team writes a review understandable by the intelligent non-clinical layman. They will also aim to see that the outcomes planned in the protocol are of relevance to those with the skin disease.

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On Little Red Hens and authors

Now and again, I come across that unsavoury aspect of publication called honorary (or passenger) authorship, i.e. senior colleagues adding their names to papers simply on the grounds that they are senior and have allowed their juniors to do the work in their department. It is human nature, and it reminds me of the story of the Little Red Hen, which is as true in adult life as it is in the nursery rhyme. You can find a wonderful 3-minute recording of it in YouTube by Pie Corbett here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdvJZD-cplg. Previous research in 2002 (Mowatt G et alJAMA.2002;287(21):2769-2771) has shown that honorary and ghost authorship might have occurred in around 40% of Cochrane reviews, but I suspect that figure is a lot less now. But it still goes on, especially for junior lead reviewers who are not in a strong position to challenge senior colleagues who do very little. Perhaps that may apply to me one day, so juniors, please don’t be afraid to question my contribution on Cochrane reviews and to simply acknowledge me rather than include me as an author if I have not done very much. I don’t want to stir up a revolution here, as it needs to be appreciated that different people bring different skills to a review. The fact remains that a small part of the team does most of the hard graft on a review in selecting studies, abstracting data and drafting the basic text. But sometimes, having a content expert on board is very helpful in order to ensure that the context and conclusions are sound.

I do hope that we don’t have any Little Red Hens in our skin group. It is very much for Cochrane teams to sort out any within-team disputes about authorship amicably and sensibly, but if you need any guidance, Cochrane advice – found in section 4.2.2  Authors  of the Handbook – is very clear: ‘Ideally, the order of authors should relate to their relative contributions to the review. The person who contributed most should be listed first.’

Hywel Williams

Co-ordinating Editor and Cockerel-in-Chief

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Membership

Become a member by filling in our simple membership form, listing your particular interests and in what capacity you wish to be a member. For example, you may be an experienced dermatologist with expertise in a particular skin disease; you may be a trainee dermatologist or not clinically trained at all. You may have much experience of a skin disease as a patient or as a person caring for someone with a skin disease; in Cochrane terminology we refer to you as a ‘consumer’.

Refereeing

We require all our protocols and reviews to be refereed by clinical and consumer referees (our editors also contribute to the refereeing process). This is a good place to start becoming involved with CSG activities.


Translators

Authors often need help to determine whether a study in another language is a randomised controlled trial (RCT) that may be relevant to their review. A translator may only need to quickly look at the paper to see if it is an RCT or not. If it is a study to be included, then the authors may ask that data are extracted. Only rarely would the paper need to be fully translated.