Cochrane web template project - what is needed?

Saunders G, Booker D, Koch G, Falck-Ytter Y, Antes G

Background: Nearly every Cochrane entity maintains an independent web site. Keeping this information up-to-date and accurate is a lot of work and highly error-prone for entity staff who do not always have the time or expertise to do this. As a result, people visiting the web sites stand a good chance of missing information. The Cochrane Collaboration Steering Group has acknowledged this problem with funding for a Cochrane entities web template project, whose objectives include providing templates to easily generate entity web sites, and a content management system (CMS) to allow entity staff to maintain the material from a web browser.

Objectives: To document content currently found on entity web sites, and how it is presented, both in terms of site structure (the path a user must take to reach the content) and tools (software products) needed to access it.

Methods: We conducted a survey of Cochrane entity web sites, recording content types and descriptions, and how the information is made accessible (i.e. web site structures and file formats).

Results: Sixty-one web sites (those of all Collaborative Review Groups and Centres that have a site) were included in the survey. For training purposes, 20 sites described how to write a Cochrane Review, 13 how to register a title, and 7 how to develop a protocol. For newcomers, 19 sites had their own description of The Cochrane Collaboration, 8 of a Cochrane Review, 5 of The Cochrane Library, 5 of a Cochrane Review Group, and 3 of consumer involvement. To provide resource access, 21 had a link to The Cochrane Library, 17 to Cochrane Review abstracts, 16 to RevMan, 10 to The Reviewer Handbook, 2 to the Cochrane Style Resource web site, and 3 to the Cochrane Library Users Group. Each site had its own unique layout and structure. All sites were accessible with standard browsers, but nearly all sites also made some of the information accessible only with less common tools such as: a JavaScript-enabled browser, Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, or Macromedia Flash. Some Cochrane entities dont have a web site.

Conclusions: From one entity web site to the next there seem to be large differences in content describing the entity itself, content relating to the Cochrane Collaboration as a whole, site structure (e.g., how content can be found), file formats, and appearance (layout and visual styles).

Implications: The survey results highlight topic areas in which centralization of source material could help ensure consistency and quality. This can be tested and improved through input from entity staff and new content and features may be identified which are not yet available on any Cochrane web site. An automated system of shared content will likely reduce the time and effort required of participating entities to maintain their site, reduce the likelihood of sites containing erroneous or inaccessible content, and improve the usefulness of the Cochrane Collaborations web presence as a whole.

References: The Cochrane entities web template project http:// template-project.cochrane.de/