Trip Rapid Review system; democratising?

I gave a session on rapid reviews at ScHARR yesterday. It was in two parts:

  • Highlighting the problems with systematic reviews and possible benefits of rapid reviews
  • Discussing rapid review methods, including the Trip Rapid Review (TRR) system

It was (from my perspective at least) interesting, with lots of discussion including significant challenge to my proposals – which I relish.  There were lots of points made and many focused around quality. I’m conscious that we need to ensure the outputs of the TRR are of good quality (however you measure that) but it was great to have that brought in to sharper focus.

One issue was raised (which, sort of, continued via email after) was the name. It was suggested that the output from the TRR be not called ‘rapid reviews’ as that might be confusing to consumers (who are expecting more ‘formal’ products). This is not something I’m prepared to cede!

My perspective on this is that I’ve been involved for rapid reviews for years and in that time I have received a lot of grief from many systematic reviewers for daring to suggest them. Now that the worm has turned and rapid reviews are increasingly mainstream the cat’s out of the bag. Traditional systematic review producers (Cochrane, Universities etc) are moving in to the rapid review space.  Has this be a ‘road to Damascus’ conversion to the merits of rapid reviews?  Being cynical I suspect it’s about power, money and control. To quote from my email “…I often see traditionalists – those who obtain privilege from evidence synthesis – as wanting to maintain their position…“.

I am not prepared to allow ‘traditionalists’ to enter the fray unchallenged and allow them to set the agenda and the rules. I’ve previously written about economic barriers to entry as a way of controlling competition – this could be an extension of that.

The TRR will be free, open access, open to all and it should democratise the evidence synthesis space. It may not work, but we’ll hopefully have fun whatever the outcome!

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