Publishing with Cochrane: author guidelines

Publishing with Cochrane: author guidelines
Publishing with Cochrane: author guidelines

This guidance is for authors preparing Cochrane Reviews intended for publication on the Cochrane Library

Propose a new or updated Cochrane Review

Cochrane Reviews provide trusted evidence for people making health and care decisions. Your research answers the questions that matter. We want to help you publish faster so that our readers can access relevant, impactful evidence. Follow the guidelines below to give your submission the best chance of being accepted for publication.

Author support - how we can help you

Publishing a Cochrane Review is a team effort. Cochrane groups all over the world provide author support. This can include help with developing your review, access to an Information Specialist to run searches, and disseminating your evidence after publication. We know Cochrane Reviews can be complex and we want to help you get it right as you write. Cochrane provides free access to training, bespoke software and detailed reporting standards to support authors before submission.

Cochrane Support team

We have a dedicated support team to respond to author queries: get in touch at

Our volunteers

Cochrane can offer you an active global community of volunteers, ready to help with your review.

  • Visit Cochrane Engage to connect with people with a variety of skills and experience, including:
    • Consumer involvement
    • Translation of studies potentially eligible for inclusion in your review
  • Ask Cochrane Crowd to screen the search results for your intervention RCT-based review. Cochrane's Screen4Me service uses our volunteer citizen scientists and machine learning to reduce the number of results for you to assess. Contact your Cochrane Information Specialist or for more information.

Search support

If you are not working with a Cochrane Information Specialist, we recommend you access Information Specialist expertise in your host institution. If this is not available, we may be able to help:

  • Cochrane Central Study Identification Service can assist with search strategy development and running searches if:
    • You are writing a commissioned review, a review associated with specific funding or a review with a deadline (e.g. informing a guideline development group meeting on a specific date);
    • You need help with an update search or a top-up search
  • If you need to develop a search strategy for a new Cochrane Review, Information Specialist expertise is available on a paid consultancy basis.
  • Further information about either of these options is available from

News and updates for authors 

Opt in to Cochrane communications and sign up to our Author Digest to receive all the latest news for authors each month. 

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Conduct your review

Cochrane Methods


Our Handbooks are your essential methods resource as you conduct your protocol and review:

Handbooks for other review types are in development. In the meantime, please use the resources below:

MECIR (Methodological Expectations of Cochrane Intervention Reviews)

  • Put methods guidance into practice with our detailed conduct standards. Your protocol or review will be assessed for adherence to these standards on submission.
  • Pay particular attention to mandatory standards, such as choosing outcomes that are important to users of Cochrane evidence. When preparing protocols, editors encourage use of standard outcome sets as defined by COMET.

Author training

  • Our unique online learning modules break down the process of conducting a review and explain Cochrane methods. Cochrane authors get a free subscription.
  • Cochrane Learning Live webinars are hosted by experts and cover a wide range of topics related to systematic reviews.
  • We provide methodology resources with guidance on topics such as network meta-analysis and risk of bias methods.
  • Our editors encourage research to have included and/or been co-produced by patients, carers and the public: learn how to involve healthcare consumers in your review from the planning stage.

Methods Support

Cochrane software

  • Cochrane’s online review development platform ReviewManager (RevMan) helps you to work smarter.
  • RevMan interacts with software such as Covidence and GRADEpro to streamline systematic review development.
  • For intervention reviews, you can set up your synthesis criteria in advance to benefit from our data management functionality. Extract your study data using Covidence or our customised templates. RevMan will populate your analyses automatically.

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Report your findings

NEW! Focused review format

  • Cochrane has moved to a new format for reviews, to make our evidence easier to read, understand and share.
  • Why change?
    • We want Cochrane Reviews to be concise and focused. For authors, this means less writing and faster turnaround times to publication. For readers, this means quicker access to current evidence that is easy to read and use.
  • What's new?
    • You will write a concise review article focused on your main findings. Keep to our 10,000-word limit for full reviews and updates (protocols should be shorter). 
    • A package of supplementary materials will publish alongside your main article. These materials are intended for a more expert readership. Use your supplementary materials to share data and information that provide additional context or enhance your main findings.
    • Read our prototype review to see what we mean in practice.
  • Should I use focused review format?
    • Please enable focused review format in RevMan if you have a protocol or review in progress and your deadline for submission is after 1 January 2024. Read about timelines for submission and the key benefits.
    • Focused review format is the default for new protocols, reviews and updates begun after 21 September 2023.

Reporting guidance

  • If you are writing an intervention review, follow our Cochrane review template, available as a practice review in RevMan for all authors. This template is embedded in RevMan for new intervention reviews from 21 September 2023.
  • All reviews should follow publishing standard guidelines, such as PRISMA 2020 (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses) for systematic reviews of interventions. Please check the PRISMA website for any extension that might be relevant for your review.  
  • If your intervention review submission is not in our new format, please continue to follow the reporting standards within the February 2022 version of MECIR.

Prepare your manuscript

    Manuscript text

    • Use Cochrane’s essential style guidelines to present your evidence accurately and consistently.
    • Know your audience. Readers of the Cochrane Library include patients, carers, policy-makers and funders from all over the world. Write in accessible language for a reader who is not a medical expert or a native English speaker. This will increase the global impact of your evidence.
      • Use short sentences.
      • Use everyday words to explain technical language.
      • Explain abbreviations and acronyms.
    • Cochrane copy editors understand the needs of Cochrane Library readers. Write with clarity to avoid corrections at proofing stage.
    • Writing in clear, concise English also benefits you as an author. You make it easier for editors and reviewers to understand your work and evaluate it fairly.

    Plain language summary

    Summary of findings

    • Your review should include at least one key Summary of findings table (SoFT). Summarise results for the comparisons and outcomes that decision-makers will find most relevant, as outlined in your review protocol. Include a row for each outcome (up to a maximum of seven). Accepted SoFT formats and interactive Summary of findings tables can be produced within RevMan using GRADEpro GDT software.

    Supplementary materials

    • The focused review format affects how you write and manage parts of your review – as outlined in the table below. If you are using the focused review format, pay particular attention when preparing your Supplementary materials as Cochrane will not copy edit, typeset or proof-read these materials. See Supplementary materials.
     Part of review  Current format  NEW! Focused review format
     References Use Cochrane style. See our essential style guidelines. Use Cochrane style with numbered in-text citations. See our essential style guidelines.
    Figures: if you include external figures, make sure they meet our image resolution requirements. A maximum of six figures can be linked from the main article in RevMan. You will see a validation warning if you exceed this. All analyses will be included in the Data and analyses section by default. Link only to the most important analyses from the text.

    Create and include links in the main article to the following figures:

    • PRISMA flow diagram
    • Visual representation of syntheses for each outcome, such as forest plots
    • Figures representing subgroup and sensitivity analyses that address the review’s objective and support its conclusions
    • Others as appropriate, such as funnel plots

    All syntheses and subgroup and sensitivity analyses will be included in the ‘Analyses’ supplementary material.

    Tables: if you need to include tables in addition to Summary of findings tables, please consider the maximum table size allowed in RevMan. Tables will be published within the main article, below the paragraph where they are first linked in the text. Preview your submission to check how tables may appear to readers on the Cochrane Library.

    Tables included in the main article should help address the review’s objective and support its conclusions.

    Other tables can be included as appendices if they contain additional data or information that supports or enhances the article.

    Tables included in the main article should help address the review’s objective and support its conclusions.

    Other tables can be included as supplementary materials if they contain additional data or information that supports or enhances the article. You can list them under ‘Other supplementary materials’.

    Search strategy: all search strategies for each database (and other sources, if applicable) with search strings, database names, access platforms, search fields and other limitations/settings. Add as an appendix in RevMan.

    Add in the Search strategy section in RevMan.

    Published as a supplementary material.

    Characteristics of studies: include the same information for each study, using the recommended headings: Methods, Participants, Interventions, Outcomes, Notes. Import into RevMan along with your study data. See also our essential style guidelines.

    Managed per study in RevMan.

    Published in table form following the References.

    Managed per study in RevMan.

    Published as separate supplementary materials:

    1. Characteristics of included studies
    2. Characteristics of excluded studies
    3. Characteristics of studies awaiting assessment
    4. Characteristics of ongoing studies

    Contains all comparisons and forest plots for all syntheses, including subgroup and sensitivity analyses.

    Published in the Data and analyses section.

    Contains all comparisons and forest plots for all syntheses, including subgroup and sensitivity analyses.

    Published in the ‘Analyses’ supplementary material.

    Risk of bias 2 tables Published in the Risk of bias section online but not included in the published PDF. Published in the ‘Risk of bias’ supplementary material’.
    Any additional data or information that supports or enhances the article Include in appendices. Include in ‘Other supplementary materials’.
    RevMan data package Downloadable alongside your published review. Downloadable alongside your published review as a supplementary material.
    External files and datasets You can link to external files and datasets stored in external repositories if needed.

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    Submit your manuscript

    Protocols and reviews are submitted to Cochrane Central Editorial Service. Before you submit your manuscript, it must be of publishable standard and ready for peer review. Manuscripts that are not of publishable standard may be rejected on submission or following peer review. Ensure your manuscript meets Cochrane requirements before you submit.

    Pre-submission checklist

    • Before submission, check your manuscript includes all items in the relevant reporting guidelines, such as the PRISMA 2020 checklist for intervention reviews. You may find it helpful to complete the checklist as you proofread your draft protocol or review before submission.  
    • Pay particular attention to the following indicators of research integrity:
      • Currency of evidence: the results of recently-published studies can mean your review is out of date before it is completed. Before submission, check the publication status of any ongoing and completed studies since your last search. Editors and peer reviewers will take into consideration how long ago your search was run, and how relevant your review findings are likely to be. You may be asked to rerun searches and incorporate new studies to ensure your results are relevant at the time of publication.
      • Funding: give details of all funding sources in the ‘Sources of support’ and/or ‘Acknowledgements’ section(s).
      • Reproduction of copyright material: you must obtain permission to reproduce any figures or excerpts from copyrighted works. It is your responsibility to submit evidence of this permission, such as an email, signature or publisher’s form.
    • Ensure your manuscript adheres to Cochrane’s editorial policies:
    • The Corresponding Author will receive an email invitation with a link to submit. Follow our step-by-step instructions for authors to submit your draft to Editorial Manager.

    Peer review

    On submission to Cochrane Central Editorial Service, your manuscript will undergo technical and editorial checks by an Editorial Assistant and a Managing Editor. Please note that your submission will not be assigned to a Managing Editor until all authors have submitted a declaration of interest. At this stage, the status of your manuscript in Editorial Manager will be Manuscript Submitted.

    The Managing Editor will check your submitted declarations of interest for compliance with the Conflict of Interest policy for Cochrane Library content, and will also assess if your submission has met Cochrane's methodological standards. The submission may be rejected if major concerns are identified, in line with Cochrane's rejection and appeals policy. At this stage, the status of your manuscript in Editorial Manager will be With Editor.

    If our editors consider your manuscript to be suitable for peer review, the following specialist reviewers will be invited to comment:

    • Methodologist
    • Information Specialist (search methods)
    • Clinical or content experts (two or three reviewers per submission)
    • Consumer (patient, carer or family member with lived experience of the condition or intervention on which the review is focused)

    You are welcome to suggest suitable non-conflicted peer reviewers (with their contact details), on submission. However, our Managing Editors are free to decide who to use as peer reviewers. At least one content/clinical reviewer must be identified independent of author recommendations. At this stage, the status of your manuscript in Editorial Manager will be Under Review.

    Cochrane has a named peer review process (other than for consumer reviewers who may choose to remain anonymous). You will receive collated peer review comments with an overall editorial decision of accept/major/minor revision/reject. This decision is made by a Senior Editor who is an expert in the topic area of your submission. Your deadline to revise your draft will depend on whether you are writing a protocol or review, and the extent of revisions required. See Submission deadlines. If you need to request an extension, or have any queries about revisions, please contact your Managing Editor. When revising your draft, make any changes needed to comply with Cochrane’s essential style guidelines in preparation for production. At this stage, the status of your manuscript in Editorial Manager will be Revise.

    Follow our step-by-step instructions for authors to submit your revised draft to Editorial Manager. On revision, please also confirm your chosen open access licence. Check if you qualify for a waiver for Gold Open Access.

    Your Managing Editor will assess your revised manuscript and rebuttal, and make an editorial decision of accept/major/minor revision/reject. The Managing Editor may request peer reviewers re-review the revised version and rebuttal or they may discuss the revisions with a Senior Editor. 

    We allow a maximum of one round of major and one round of minor revision. Manuscripts that do not meet the required standard after this point will be rejected in line with Cochrane’s rejection and appeals policy

    Submission deadlines

    Action or decision Protocol Review Update
    Submit draft after proposal is accepted 90 days - 150 days
    Submit draft after protocol is published - 150 days -
    Resubmit with minor revisions 14 days 21 days 21 days
    Resubmit with major revisions 21 days 30 days 30 days

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    Acceptance and publication

    After a maximum of two rounds of revision following peer review, your Managing Editor will confirm if your article is ready to publish. Manuscripts are accepted for publication by a Senior Editor and handed over to production. This means that our editors are satisfied with the scientific content of your submission. You may have further revisions to make related to language and style. At this stage, the status of your manuscript in Editorial Manager will be Accept.

    Copyright and licensing

    • When your submission enters production, each author will receive an email notification with a link to complete a Licence for publication form. Each author must submit a form to allow the submission to publish once production is complete.
    • The Licence for publication form will include details of your open access licence and a link to view the accepted manuscript (prior to copy editing). Contact your Managing Editor as soon as possible if any of the following details need correcting:
      • Open access licence type: please note that if you have selected a Gold open access licence, either you or your funder must pay the article processing charge (APC). APC waivers and discounts are available. 
      • Author names, affiliations or author order
      • Interests noted in Authors’ declarations of interest section


    • Your manuscript will be copy edited by a Cochrane copy editor, excluding the Supplementary materials. You should receive comments and queries from the copy editor within 4-6 weeks of your submission entering production. Follow our step-by-step instructions for authors to review your final proofs and make any requested corrections.
    • Before publication your manuscript will have a final proofread. Your Managing Editor will notify you when your article is published on the Cochrane Library.

    Review promotion support

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    Publish with us again

    We hope you enjoyed writing your Cochrane Review and would like to work with us again. Please propose your next review to build on your experience of using Cochrane methods to produce trusted evidence.

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