The Cochrane Schizophrenia Group

Ferreting in CRS and RevMan…it’s technical

on May 31, 2013

By Angelique Bodart, the Editorial Assistant for the CSzG

An interview with two 3rd year students on the Information Management and Healthcare course at the University of Applied Sciences in Ulm, Germany

When they were asked where they would like their 3rd year work placement to be they did not choose Hawaii or Brazil like their fellow students, they chose the UK.  What they got was a placement with us, the Cochrane Schizophrenia Group in Nottingham, an eager Coordinating Editor and lots of small projects ready for them to run with.  So far they have been presented with two projects, both originally considered reasonably small but as with all technological advancement these project grew, in difficulty and further development ideas.  This is an insight into the work they’ve been doing for us over the past three months and will continue to develop over the next two.

Project One:  Connecting Ferret to the new CRS

English: Sable short-hair ferret, jill, 1 1/2 ...

English: Sable short-hair ferret, jill, 1 1/2 years old Deutsch: Iltis-farbenes Frettchen, Fähe, 1 1/2 Jahre alt Nederlands: Wildkleur fret, moertje, 1 1/2 jaar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For a bit of background check out this poster on our website for a quick overview of why this project was needed.

This project has been adopted by a student interested in going into the business and management side of IT.  She looks a little stressed.  Her mission was to create a database that would allow our Ferret system to connect to the larger Cochrane Register of Studies (CRS) system.  The idea being that Drew, our hard-copy and electronic journal article tracker-downer specialist, could easily search the CRS dataset from Ferret and mark new articles as he found them to reduce the amount of work needed the next time.  It’s a bit like bookmarking.  Why is she stressed?  Her side of the bargain is done, the database works with Ferret.  The problem is that the CRS system is so big that it crashes every time the search is conducted from Ferret.  She is working closely with Gordon Dooley, Director of Metaxis and responsible for the development of the CRS, to try to sort this out but it’s a hard task.  To make this work she has had to learn abour H2, the Java Structured Query Language (SQL) database, a little bit from online sources and a little bit from our single SQL for Dummies book.  I must admit, when I came into work one day to see it lying on my desk I panicked and quickly moved it to theirs.

Project Two:  Auto-text for Effects of Interventions section in RevMan

This project has been adopted by a student interested in the pharmaceutical industry, supporting the development of their IT systems.  She looks very pleased with herself.  Her original mission was to create a programme that would look through the Review Manager (RevMan) file and identify the relevant text to be automatically generated in the Effects of Interventions section of the review.  With a lot of help from Stephanie Sampson, a full-time systematic reviewer for the CSzG, about where the data is held and how it should be laid out both students got the programme up and running.  There were a few teething problems when trying to organise the programme to work directly from the RevMan file, it just would not do it.  Instead, in their genius, they managed to create a system whereby magical things happen in the background (see diagram)…this is where the students separate to work on their individual projects.

Effects of interventions cycle

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