The Bill Silverman Prize

*Please note: Submissions open on the 1 April and close on the 30 June.*

“Cochrane’s mission is to provide accessible and credible information to support informed decision-making. Therefore, Cochrane values constructive criticism of its work and publicly recognises this through the Bill Silverman Prize. Such criticisms based on high quality research facilitate improvement or change in Cochrane methods and policy. We look forward to receiving your nominations.” 
Yemisi Takwoingi, 2014 Bill Silverman Prize winner

William (Bill) Silverman, MD

Silverman PrizeWilliam (Bill) Silverman (1924-2004) was one of the founders of American neonatal medicine. He was honoured repeatedly as one of the pioneers in his specialty; however, he often evoked somewhat contradictory responses amongst his colleagues because he was in the habit of raising troubling questions about the scientific basis and ethics of his and their practices. Like many of the people who have helped to establish Cochrane, Bill Silverman could be regarded as a 'troublemaker'. As he reiterated frequently, however, criticism is a form of troublemaking that can help to drive progress. Furthermore, criticism should not be limited to examining the work of others, but should also include self-criticism.

Bill Silverman Prize

The Bill Silverman Prize is offered annually and explicitly acknowledges Cochrane's value of criticism, with a view to helping to improve its work, and thus achieve its aim of helping people make well-informed decisions about health care by providing the best possible evidence on the effects of healthcare interventions. The Cochrane Steering Group approved the establishment of the Prize in 2007, and it was awarded for the first time in 2008.


Please note that this Prize is not for the preparation of a Cochrane Review; rather, it is for a published paper which demonstrates originality and critical thinking, either in evaluating any aspect of the preparation, maintenance or dissemination of Cochrane Reviews or about the work of Cochrane more generally. It should be of high quality, have been accompanied by constructive suggestions on how the relevant aspects of Cochrane’s work could be improved; and have had, or is likely to have, a positive impact on the scientific quality, relevance and use of Cochrane Reviews.


Peer-reviewed papers that fulfil the criteria described above under ‘Purpose’, and were published in the twelve-month period 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017 are eligible for nomination in 2017. 

Nomination process and deadline

The Central Executive Team issues the call for nominations via Cochrane’s mailing lists in the first week of April each year. Nominations can be made by anyone, including the authors of the publication being nominated. Completed nomination forms and a copy of the paper should be sent to the Central Executive Team ( with “Bill Silverman Prize” in the subject heading. The deadline for receipt of nominations is 30th June 2017.

Announcement of Prize recipient  

The recipient of the Prize is announced at the annual Cochrane Colloquium. The Prize is awarded to the corresponding author of the selected publication, and comprises a cash award of  USD $1000  and a certificate. It is this person’s responsibility to distribute the cash award in a fair way to co-authors of the paper.

Bill Silverman Prize Committee

The Prize Committee comprises five members, at least three of whom do not have an active role within any Cochrane entity (other than, possibly, as an author or referee of one or more Cochrane Reviews). When one of the committee members stands down from the committee, the resulting vacancy is filled by the recipient of the most recent Prize (or a person chosen by the recipients). Members of the Committee for 2017 are Yemisi Takwoingi (internal, Chair), Marina Cuttini (external), Rodolfo Saracci (external), Michelle Roseman and Jamie Kirkham.

Funding for the Prize

Bill Silverman’s family agreed to the establishment of this Prize, and Iain and Jan Chalmers contributed GBP 5000 sterling of start-up funding. The Steering Group will determine the future of the Prize when this initial contribution has been exhausted and, if relevant, will seek to identify future funding. The Central Executive Team is responsible for administering these Prize funds.

Bill Silverman Prize recipients  


Biester K et al. High dropout rates in trials included in Cochrane Reviews. Oral presentation at the 14th Cochrane Colloquium, Dublin, Ireland, October 2006 [abstract]. 


Moher D, Tetzlaff J, Tricco AC, Sampson M, Altman DG. Epidemiology and reporting characteristics of systematic reviews. PLoS Medicine 2007 4(3): e78. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040078 [full-text PDF].


Ford AC, Guyatt GH, Talley NJ, Moayyedi P, Errors in the conduct of systematic reviews of pharmacological interventions for irritable bowel syndrome. Am J Gastroenterol 2010; 105: 280-288; doi: 10.1038/ajg.2009.658. [abstract].


Donegan S, Williamson P, Gamble C, Tudur-Smith C. Indirect comparisons: a review of reporting and methodological quality. PLoS ONE 2010 5(11):e11054, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0011054. [abstract].


Nasser M, Welch V, Tugwell P, Ueffing E, Doyle J, Waters E. Ensuring relevance for Cochrane reviews: evaluating processes and methods for prioritizing topics for Cochrane reviews. J Clin Epidemiol 2012 Apr [abstract].


Roseman, M, Turner EH, Lexchin, J, Coyne, JC, Bero, LA, Thombs, BD. Reporting of conflicts of interest from drug trials in Cochrane reviews: cross sectional study. BMJ 2012;345:e5155 [abstract].


Takwoingi Y, Hopewell S, Tovey D, Sutton A. A multicomponent decison tool for prioritising the updating of systematic reviews. BMJ 2013;347:f7191 doi: 10.1136/bmj.f7191 (published 13 December 2013).


Saini P, Loke YK, Gamble C, Altman DG, Williamson PR, Kirkham JJ. Selective reporting bias of harm outcomes within studies: findings from a cohort of systematic reviews. BMJ 2014; 349:g6501.


The Prize Committee was unable to award a prize for 2016, as there were no eligible submissions received.