Skip to content

Cochrane IMS

Sections
Personal tools
You are here: Home » Projects » New IMS » Questions and answers about the new IMS

Questions and answers about the new IMS

Document Actions
Version 1.3, 18 November 2003

Contents

Background
General
Who is developing the new IMS, and why?
What groups are overseeing the development?
Is there an advisory group for the new IMS?
Will the new IMS be mandatory to use?
Will the system be introduced gradually or at once?
What is the timescale?
Where can I get updated information about the development?
Why Change?
What will the benefits be for me as an author?
What would the benefits be for me as a review group coordinator?
Data migration and compatibility
Which data from existing systems can be migrated?
Will there be centrally provided help with manual processing of data?
Will all previous publications of reviews be included in the IMS archives?
Will it be compatible with MeerKat?
Stability, security, access
What will happen if the central server breaks down?
Will the system and data be safe from intruders?
What if we lose our internet access?
What about people with poor internet access?
Will there be a central budget for ensuring fast and reliable internet connections for groups?
Confidentiality
Who will be able be able to view or change our group's data?
How will contact details be protected from abuse?
Does the new IMS comply with the data protection act?
What will the relationship be between the contact database, the existing email lists and my own email software?
Local issues
Could our group install a local copy of the new IMS?
How will the new IMS work together with our local databases?
How will the new IMS work together with existing email software?
Could we keep a local backup of our data?
Working in the new IMS
What is the difference between tracking and workflow?
Wouldn't review group coordinators lose control?
Does the system aim to standardise across groups?
Will the system be flexible enough to adapt to the special needs of different groups?
Could our peer review checklists be integrated with the system?
Will the interface be provided in languages other than English?
RevMan and reviews
Will RevMan still be used?
Will you be able to edit reviews online in a browser?
Will you be able to use Word or other programs for editing reviews?
Will there be a system for version control?
How will reviews get circulated during the editorial process?
Will there be an automatic system for software upgrades?
Training and support
Is there a central budget for training?
What kind of training will be provided?
What kind of support will be provided?

Background

This document has been developed based on discussions about the new IMS held at the RGCs meeting at the 9th Annual Meeting for UK Contributors to The Cochrane Collaboration in Warwick, UK, 2003, a workshop held at the Annual meeting of Continental Cochrane Entities in Rome, Italy, 2003. Version 1.3 contains updates based on issues raised at the RGCs meeting in Barcelona 2003. A document summarising the issues raised at that meeting can be found at www.cc-ims.net/Projects/newIMS/IMS_session_Barcelona.pdf.

If you need more information about the existing and new IMS, “Introduction to the new IMS” and other documents can be found at www.cc-ims.net.

General

Who is developing the new IMS, and why?
The system will be developed by software developers at the Nordic Cochrane Centre and the Norwegian Branch of the Nordic Cochrane Centre. This was decided by the Cochrane Collaboration Steering Group at its meeting on 11-12 April 2002. The Nordic Cochrane Centre has extensive experience with the IMS and contributes 3 locally funded full-time positions.

What groups are overseeing the development?
The overall development is overseen by the Information Management System Group (IMSG) with input from the ModMan, RevMan and Technical Implementation advisory groups. The IMSG is an advisory group to the Cochrane Collaboration Steering Group.

Is there an advisory group for the new IMS?
RAG and MAG will advise on parts of the system. Other ad-hoc groups may be formed should this become desirable. The publishers are represented on the IMSG and will be involved in the development.

Will the new IMS be mandatory to use?
The new IMS consists of four main components: RevMan, contact management, document management and workflow management. Reviews and other documents (e.g. entity information and topics list) that are part of the official publication have to be processed by the central system. A review group could choose to use their own tracking/workflow system but that would mean duplication of data and effort. As for contact management, the Steering Group has agreed that it initially should be mandatory for the contact details of editorial base members of Collaborative Review Groups (i.e. Review Group Co-ordinators, Trials Search Co-ordinators and Co-ordinating Editors), all other editors, contact authors and co-authors, as well as the contact people of all other entities, to be entered into and maintained in the Contact Database. This should come into effect by July 2004. Entities will be officially informed of this before the end of 2003.

Will the system be introduced gradually or at once?
The central contact database and the Review Titles Manager are already being used in their current form. These will be modified to be part of the first version of the new IMS with central review storage and the new workflow system. We will aim to introduce this gradually to a few entities at a time. Other modules will be added later (e.g. integration with a central study register).

What is the timescale?
We expect to introduce a functional system in 2005. A more detailed project plan is available from www.cc-ims.net/Projects/newIMS/milestones.htm and will be continuously updated.

Where can I get updated information about the development?
The IMS web site: www.cc-ims.net is the central place for information about the new IMS, and it also has forums that allow you to discuss the new IMS and to submit wishes. In addition, we will use the existing email lists to disseminate information at regular intervals, or create a new list dedicated to the new IMS.

Why Change?

What will the benefits be for me as an author?

  • You will be able to submit reviews directly from RevMan without using an email program
  • The central check in/check out system with version control makes it easier to share reviews with your co-authors and review group and keep track of different versions
  • Central archiving and backup will protect you from data loss and allow you to locate earlier versions of reviews
  • Notification of easy to install software upgrades will be delivered automatically
  • If the format of a Cochrane review changes, some changes could be applied centrally without any workload for you
  • It will be possible - to a greater extent - to work on reviews in software other than RevMan
  • RevMan 5 will be document-based and work more like other software

What would the benefits be for me as a review group coordinator?

  • The new workflow and tracking system will assist you in your work by keeping track of where reviews are in the editorial process and helping with repetitive tasks
  • The central check in/check out system with version control makes it possible to know where the latest version of a review is and makes it easy to communicate changes back to authors
  • Authors will always have access to the latest version of a review, and will be warned if they are working on an out-of-date version
  • You will be able to access the system from any computer with internet access
  • Information like contact details will only have to be updated in one place
  • Accurate contact details for all authors will be shared across review groups - with no Contact ID confusion
  • You don't have to circulate reviews by email. The relevant people can be given access to view and print reviews directly from the web site or by connecting from RevMan
  • Central archiving and backup will protect your group from data loss and allow you to locate earlier versions of reviews
  • Software upgrades on the central system can be made without you having to install anything
  • Long distance support to fix potential data and program errors
  • Support for working with a central copy editor
  • The new IMS makes it possible - if the Collaboration decides so - to change from quarterly deadlines into continuous publication. This will prevent work from building up around the deadlines

Data migration and compatibility

Which data from existing systems can be migrated?
Reviews, topics lists, entity descriptions (modules) and contact details from reviews will be transferred automatically in consultation with the relevant groups. Other contact details can to some extent be transferred but this may require manual work, since the data need to be in a format that matches the one used by the Contact Database (see www.cc-ims.net/contact/format.htm). The CRGs that start using the new contact database early in the process will have the most options for automatic transfers. Data from local tracking systems can probably not be transferred automatically - the best chances are for groups using ModMan 4.2 for tracking. Other tracking data will likely need to be added manually.

Will there be centrally provided help with manual processing of data?
Answer pending

Will all previous publications of reviews be included in the IMS archives?
Answer pending

Will it be compatible with MeerKat?
At some point the system will be integrated with a study-based register of trials, and will most likely be compatible with MeerKat.

Stability, security, access

What will happen if the central server breaks down?
We plan to have at least two redundant servers, so if one breaks down, another one will still be accessible. If all the servers (or their internet connections) break down, it will not be possible to access the tracking system, the contact database and the other central components, but work will be able to go on locally in RevMan. The downtime will be minimised by placing servers at dedicated server hosting sites with 24-hour surveillance that guarantee 99.9% uptime (or better).

Will the system and data be safe from intruders?
We will take all the precautions we can to prevent this, but no system is 100% safe. The most common security problem is users not handling their passwords responsibly. We don't expect data in our system to be very interesting for hackers. If an intruder somehow manages to enter the system anyway and deletes or modifies data, we will have a good backup system that would make any data loss minimal.

What if we lose our internet access?
A CRG would not be able work actively with tracking, workflow and contacts. All data stored locally, such as reviews being worked on, or contact details exported to a local database would still be fully accessible. There would also be full access to the system from any other location with internet access.

What about people with poor internet access?
The amount of time that authors have to be online will not change significantly. Even if you work by exchanging reviews on floppy disk in the mail, that will still be possible. CRGs will need good internet access, however.

Will there be a central budget for ensuring fast and reliable internet connections for groups?
The software needs assessment survey showed that all groups already have good internet access, but this could have changed and may need reinvestigation. It will be up to the Steering Group to decide if financial support for internet access should be provided.

Confidentiality

Who will be able be able to view or change our group's data?
Those who have the relevant permissions. There will be a set of default permissions for basic information that should obviously be shared, but apart from that, entity administrators control who should have access to what, e.g. who should have read and write access to a particular review.

There is also the possibility that the system could generate reports for the Registration and Monitoring Group, for instance. Such functions should only be implemented according to clear policy decisions governing their use. All monitoring activities could be made to be fully transparent to those monitored.

How will contact details be protected from abuse?
Standard users will not easily be able to extract large sets of contact details like email addresses - only entity administrators will be able to do that. When registering as a user you will have to agree to the terms of use for the system. If users violate the terms of use, their rights may be revoked. (The current terms of use for the Contact Database are available at www.cochrane-net.org/contact/public/terms.cfm.)

Does the new IMS comply with the data protection act?
Data protection regulations vary internationally, but share some common principles. By adhering to the fundamental principles (such as treating details responsibly, having full transparency for those registered, and perhaps including informed consent), the new IMS is likely to be compliant with regulations everywhere, and in many cases it will be an improvement over current practices in the Collaboration. The Collaboration is registered with the UK Data Protection Register.

What will the relationship be between the contact database, the existing email lists and my own email software?
If we will be able to exchange data between the contact database and the list server software it would be possible for a person to choose the lists he/she subscribes to from his/her personal page in the contact database. With this information in the system it would also be possible to better target the information sent out. For example, it would be possible to determine if an announcement should be sent to a select group of persons rather than to multiple lists, to ensure that recipients only receive it once. A clear Collaboration policy about who should disseminate what information would help to minimise the information overload.
Emails will be sent through the user’s own email software (see below).

Local issues

Could our group install a local copy of the new IMS?
No, it would be very expensive since the core software components have high licensing and maintenance costs. In addition, it would require expert help to install and support. The central budget does not cover such expenses.

How will the new IMS work together with our local databases?
Some data, e.g. contact details, will be able to be exported from the central system and imported into local databases. The dataflow is mainly one way, i.e. data cannot be uploaded again. The exception is reviews that will be able to be both downloaded and uploaded.

How will the new IMS work together with existing email software?
It will be possible for entity administrators to generate lists of persons and, just by clicking a link, create emails to them within the administrator’s own email software. It will be different for emails that are sent by the system, e.g. if automatic reminders to authors are being used. Those will not automatically be registered in the entity administrators email system, but it will be possible to set up the system to send a copy of such mails to a local email system. A third variant could be semi-automatic reminders, where the system suggests an email that can be edited and sent via the system or copied to the administrator's own email software.

Could we keep a local backup of our data?
Yes. Data, such as reviews could be downloaded and saved locally. For instance, a CRG could have the system generate a full package of all reviews on a weekly basis, if they wished for the added security. Remember that with redundant central systems that are continuously backed up, the risk of data loss is extremely small.

Working in the new IMS

What is the difference between tracking and workflow?
A tracking system allows you to passively record the completion of the stages in a process. A workflow system can model the entire process, and use this knowledge to prompt for action or automate simple tasks. For example, a workflow system could tell the RGC:

Author A has checked in protocol X as Ready for publication.
You have chosen Peer review as the default next step.

Should versions be emailed to the assigned peer reviewers (X, Y and Z) in their preferred formats?

(Example only, final system may not behave exactly like this)

Wouldn't review group coordinators lose control?
No, it's up to them to choose whether events taking place need their approval or not, and how many tasks, if any, should be automated. Also, they will in a sense gain control as they will have better tools for monitoring the group’s workflow and taking action where needed.

Does the system aim to standardise across groups?
No, but if the Collaboration makes a political decision to aim for more standardisation across groups, this will be easier to implement with the new system.

Will the system be flexible enough to adapt to the special needs of different groups?
Yes, to a certain extent. For example, it will be possible to adjust the standard workflow templates to individual groups. It will also be possible to customise workflows to incorporate RGCs’ unique experience, for example in how communication with the individuals involved in the editorial process should be handled.

Could our peer review checklists be integrated with the system?
If there were only a few standard checklists and forms used by all groups, these could be included as fully integrated parts of the system. If individual checklists are used, these can be sent out as separate documents, which can be made an automatic part of a workflow. It may also be made possible for users to create online versions of their checklists.

Will the interface be provided in languages other than English?
There are currently no plans for this. However, the sofware development platform used supports developing multi-lingual applications.

RevMan and reviews

Will RevMan still be used?
RevMan will continue to be the software supported by the Collaboration for preparing and maintaining reviews. There will be a new version 5 designed specially for communicating with the new IMS.

Will you be able to edit reviews online in a browser?
No. To implement a system with functionality similar to RevMan that runs in a browser would be very time-consuming and is not a current priority.

Will you be able to use Word or other programs for editing reviews?
You can already use Word to edit the main text of review, but two steps will be taken to improve data exchange with other software:
1) The import/export functions for transferring different file types to/from RevMan will be improved.
2) The review file format used by the new IMS will be publicly available and will be based on an open document standard (XML). Open standards mean that the format is fully documented and transparent to other developers, and using them will make it easier for applications with support for those standards to read and modify reviews or parts of reviews.
It is very difficult to create something that works smoothly with Microsoft products, since they traditionally define their own closed standards. This has improved in recent Microsoft releases, and closer integration with Microsoft Office may be possible at a later point.

Will there be a system for version control?
Yes, the central system will have version control and allow you to compare different versions.

How will reviews get circulated during the editorial process?
Persons who only need to read and comment on a review will be able to do so online - there is no need to circulate actual files. Persons who need to modify a review will check out the review, modify it in RevMan, and check it back in.

Will there be an automatic system for software upgrades?
We plan to build functionality into RevMan that automatically checks for upgrades when the user connects to the central system. The upgrades will be small patches that are quick and easy to download and install.

Training and support

Is there a central budget for training?
The Steering Group has approved a budget in principle to support the employment of IMS central support person(s)/trainer(s). A firm proposal is being drawn up (November 2004) and will be made available on the IMS web-site when it has been finalised. A budget has also been allocated for on-site visits by a member of the IMS team to help CRGs (with large amounts of data) with their transition to the new IMS. IMS training days are being planned in connection with larger regional meetings (in the UK (March 2004), Continental Europe (May 2004), Australasia (June 2004) and North America (date to be decided)). These have been scheduled with the expectation that staff at editorial bases would travel to these meetings anyway. A full day IMS training day is also being scheduled for the XII Cochrane Colloquium in Canada, and it is very important that at least one member of the editorial staff of each CRG attends this.

What kind of training will be provided?
For the new IMS to become a success, it is essential that good training is provided. Currently, the following groups with individual training needs have been identified:

  • Authors
  • RGCs
  • Editors
  • Trainers and IT staff at CRG host institutions
Full day workshops are being scheduled as part of larger regional meetings and the XII Colloquium in Canada. An IMS training plan is being developed and will be published on the IMS site when available.

What kind of support will be provided?
A system for central support will exist as it does today, but it will be more formalised and will probably be centrally funded.

During the introduction phase where data have to be migrated, special funds will be reserved for providing support to each review group. This may include a visit from a system developer/supporter.

Authors will mainly be using RevMan and support is likely to continue as today where they contact their groups, and the groups pass requests they are not able to deal with on to the central support.

Created by Jacob
Last modified 10:56, 27 June 2005
« May 2006 »
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31      
03 May 06
13:00-17:00 IMS training at CECEM 06 in Copenhagen
 
 

Powered by Plone

This site conforms to the following standards: