skip to main content

Our network of sites

Scoping working group


The COVID-19 Evidence Network to support Decision-making (COVID-END) has come together to help coordinate and reduce duplication in these remarkable efforts. Its initial focus includes supporting working groups to achieve and document quick-wins, and to establish processes to achieve and document longer-term wins, in seven areas including scoping where support and coordination is most needed and identifying what principles should underpin such support and coordination.

Proposed terms of reference

  1. Confirming the name for the initiative, which is provisionally COVID-19 Evidence Network for supporting Decision-making (COVID-END)
  2. Describing the focus of the initiative
    1. Evidence synthesis (and within syntheses, including those addressing any type of questions and those using any type of quantitative, qualitative and mixed-methods reviews, as well as evidence maps, rapid reviews, and scoping reviews), as well as technology assessments and guidelines informed by such evidence syntheses (all regardless of publication status)
      1. Not primary studies (including modeling studies) except as an input to evidence syntheses (and reciprocally with other working groups taking up the challenge of encouraging researchers, including modelers, to include data from evidence synthesis in their primary research or models)
    2. Human studies
      1. Not animal studies, although we will maintain a connection to leading groups in this domain (e.g., CAMARADES)
    3. All sectors
      1. Note that this has implications for PROSPERO given it includes reviews about health and social care, welfare, public health, education, crime, justice, and international development, where there is a health related outcome
    4. COVID-only evidence and COVID-relevant evidence (e.g., evidence addressing a topic like task shifting that is highly relevant to COVID but where the studies were not conducted in the context of COVID), with the latter also positioning the evidence synthesis and related communities to respond to any future pandemics that arise
  3. Drafting principles that underpin the work of the initiative
    1. Supporting (not competing with or replacing) well-positioned regional, national and sub-national organizations that are working in close partnership with key target audiences and already responding to their evidence needs
    2. Supporting – with a common brand/identity, small agile secretariat, and simple working group structure – a distributed network of organizations and individuals to play to their comparative advantages and leverage one another's work
    3. Seeking out quick wins for those supporting decision-makers and among those involved in preparing evidence syntheses, technology assessments and guidelines, and taking measured steps to longer-term solutions that can better support decision-makers
    4. Strengthening existing institutions (e.g., Campbell and Cochrane) and processes (e.g., protocol registration in PROSPERO) and contributing to their long-term sustainability
    5. Addressing a diversity of regional and linguistic needs among decision-makers and those who support them
    6. Ensuring diversity, equity and inclusion in the leadership of the initiative and its working groups (e.g., achieving a balance of co-chairs by gender and from high-income countries and from low- and middle-income countries)
    7. Committing to related principles articulated by others
      1. Principles of high quality evidence synthesis as articled by Evidence Synthesis International
      2. Principles of open access to of all data, methods, processes, code, software, publications, education and peer review produced through the initiative (in keeping with ‘open synthesis’ principles
  4. Contributing to the topics part of the taxonomy of key meta-data that is being developed by the Digitizing working group to ensure it captures everything from diagnosis through managing surge to addressing delays in chronic-disease management on the health side and from people going hungry through businesses failing and violence in the home increasing on the broader social side
  5. Describing the difference parts of the evidence ecosystem (on both demand and supply sides), gathering information about who’s working in each (in partnership with ACTS), and then combining this information to identify and capture efficiencies (e.g., potential overlaps between our working groups, especially the Digitizing working group, and those of the COVID-19 Knowledge Accelerator)
  6. Confirming relationship between the initiative and other related initiatives, such as Evidence Synthesis International and Global Evidence Synthesis Initiative
  7. Collaborating with other working groups to identify the human and financial needs to support the work, ways ‘re-program’ existing budgets where possible, and contribute to collective efforts to pursue opportunities for additional funding where appropriate


  1. Jeremy Grimshaw, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute | RISE, Canada (chair)
  2. Birte Snilsveit, 3IE, UK
  3. Charles Wiysonge, South African Medical Research Council, South Africa
  4. David Gough, EPPI Centre, UK
  5. David Tovey, Independant
  6. Declan Devane, Cochrane Ireland, Ireland
  7. Gabriel Rada, Epistemonikos, Chile
  8. Patrick Okwen Mbah, eBASE, Cameroon
  9. Trish Greenhalgh, University of Oxford, UK
  10. Ruth Stewart, Africa Centre for Evidence, South Africa
  11. Secretariat: Heather Bullock, John Lavis and Safa Al-Khateeb, McMaster Health Forum | RISE, Canada

Take a look at our guide to all COVID-19 evidence sources to see the breadth of the response to COVID-19 and identify where coordination is most needed. Sources range from guidelines to rapid reviews to study data, and the topics addressed by these sources range from traditional infection prevention and control to approaches being used in the full array of sectors touched by the pandemic.