Background: To ensure wide dissemination and high impact of review findings, Cochrane recognises that there may be instances when it is advantageous to enable co-publication of Cochrane systematic reviews. From 2010, co-publication must be formalised with publication agreements between the editor of the journal, the Cochrane Review Group, Cochrane Editor-in-Chief and Wiley, in line with the Editorial and Publishing Policy Resource, and is the exception rather than the rule.
Objectives: To report: 1) the frequency of co-publication of systematic reviews from the Cochrane Breast Cancer Group; and, 2) adherence to publishing policy in regards to co-publication.
Methods: Active reviews and protocols from the Cochrane Breast Cancer Group published from January 2010 were identified. Using the review title and author names, PubMed database and Google Scholar were searched to identify possible co-publications. Previous applications for co-publication were sought from the Managing Editor. Each possible co-publication was compared to the published Cochrane review/protocol using a pre-tested data-collection form.
Results: Of 63 active reviews and protocols published since 2010, 7.9% (3 reviews, 2 protocols) had co-publications identified. Of those co-publications, 3 reviews (1 review, 2 protocols) were published before the Cochrane review. Adherence to publishing policy was low with only one review obtaining approval for co-publication and fulfilling manual policy requirements for co-publication. 4 of 5 reviews were published in journals with a lower impact factor (range: 2.74-3.15) than the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.
Conclusions: There was limited evidence of co-publication of systematic reviews or protocols from the Cochrane Breast Cancer Review group. Among those that did have co-publications, the majority did not adhere to publishing policy and did not obtain approval prior to co-publication. Although the Title Registration form states the Cochrane publishing policy, greater awareness of procedures for co-publication is needed after protocol-publication stage to ensure corresponding Cochrane reviews are published before other co-publications.