Cochrane Profiles – Trials Search Coordinator

First question, what is a Trials Search Coordinator?

The Trials Search Coordinator (TSC) is one of the three core roles within Cochrane Review Groups, the others being Coordinating Editors and Managing Editors. As the TSC for Cochrane Hypertension, I am responsible for managing literature searching for all of the systematic reviews produced by our Group. This includes:

  • Maintaining a specialised register of controlled trials that fall within the scope of Cochrane Hypertension
  • Adding to the specialised register via weekly searches of core databases
  • Providing search support to our review authors, including development and execution of search strategies in databases such as MEDLINE, Embase, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), the Hypertension Group specialised register, and others.
  • Providing advice to authors on other steps to be taken to ensure that our reviews are compliant with the Methodological Expectations of Cochrane Intervention Reviews (MECIR)
  • Participating in Cochrane Standard Author Training Workshops given once or twice yearly by Cochrane Hypertension

What does a typical day look like for you? 

I start the day by checking my email. I work on projects with colleagues in other countries, particularly the UK and continental Europe, so when I login to my email on a Monday morning, I usually have lots of catching up to do!

Typical emails may include requests from our Managing Editor to comment on new title proposals received by our Group, requests from authors to receive updated searches, and weekly database updates from Ovid or other sources.

I then login to Evernote, which I use to manage daily, weekly and longer term tasks, check what I have planned for the day, update the list according to what I’ve received via email, and then log into Archie to view our current protocols and reviews and plan any searches that may need to be carried out.

I’ll also login to the Cochrane Register of Studies (CRS), the software used by TSCs to manage their specialised registers.  Register maintenance takes time and I try to screen batches of newly imported references at least a couple of times a week identify controlled trials that can be added to our register and submitted to CENTRAL.

What other kinds of duties do you have in your group beyond searching?

Lots! I manage our social media, including our website and our Facebook and Twitter accounts. I would be lost without having Hootsuite to manage those accounts plus my personal Twitter and the accounts I look after for the Therapeutics Initiative, our sister research group at our home institution, the University of British Columbia.

Are there any projects you are involved with that you’d like to share?

In addition to my work with Cochrane Hypertension, I have a part-time secondment as a member of the newly formed TSC Support Team.  I love this role because it gives me the opportunity to work with a fantastic team of TSCs providing mentoring and training for new and existing TSCs.

I’m also a member of the TSC Executive, which facilitates communications between the TSC community, the Editor in Chief, the Cochrane Steering Group, as well as working collaboratively with members of other Cochrane executives and with important partners such as the Cochrane Editorial Unit Information Specialist and Co-convenors of Cochrane Information Retrieval Methods.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your work as a TSC?

Time!  It’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day work of trying to keep up with searching for new and updated reviews. One of my objectives for the coming year is to make more time to think strategically about how I can work more efficiently and develop our specialised register as a more comprehensive source of controlled trials for Cochrane Hypertension reviews.

What do you enjoy the most about your work?

I feel lucky to collaborate with fantastic people, both here in Vancouver and researchers from around the world.  As a TSC, I love the variety in my work – a good mixture of individual and team-based tasks and projects.