The Cochrane Schizophrenia Group

My first 40 days as a Trials Search Coordinator (TSC) in the CSzG

on September 6, 2013

By Farhad Shokraneh, TSC for the CSzG

United Kingdom: stamp

United Kingdom: stamp (Photo credit: Sem Paradeiro)

I used to be a Librarian or as we are now known as, an ‘information specialist’.  Even as young boy, age 12, I had a small library at home with coded books.  But about ten years later, I noticed my real interest when I got involved with the Iranian Center for Evidence-Based Medicine where I attended Prof. Paul Glasziou’s workshop.  It was like discovering a new continent in the science world for me.  I chose my field and I continued my ambitions to be a Cochrane Librarian, or as it is known in the Cochrane world, a Trial Search Coordinator (TSC).  Well, it did not happen over night, it took me three years to get the minimum requirements before deciding to apply for this job.  While applying, I was just worried about two things (including the results of course):

1. Getting UK visa
2. A zoo full of Meerkat and Ferret waiting for me on my PC at CSzG! Fortunately I got a CRS!

Flag of the United Arab Emirates

Flag of the United Arab Emirates (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It worth noting that as a part of the visa-waiting process, I got a warm hug in United Arab Emirates from hotel bed bugs who tattooed all over my body for free! It was my first tattoo experience; I thought it was an allergy!

After a while of working here, I confess that I’m still gathering pieces of a puzzle to figure out what a TSC does.  I should say that this is really dynamic work, I never cease to discover new aspects.  The most interesting part is learning and experiencing at the same time.  I’ve met some interesting people here and all are kind enough to share their knowledge with me.  I learn something new every day and the n get to apply it the same day.  Although I have been  a member of research teams for various systematic reviews in the past, my tools mainly being Microsoft Office programs and EndNote, I now get to add to my alphabe

tised toolbox with Archie, CRS, Ferret, and RevMan.  Soon I may even have the full A-Z set…especially if we continue to go down the acronym route.

So, in short, what have a I learnt?  I now know how to collect Randomised Control Trials (RCTs) and import them into our register (CRS); deduplicate, search and organise the results for the authors (or reviewers!) ready for them to sift through, excluding and including as they go; manage the records in Documents, Text, or Excel format; share files in DropBox; communicate with the authors; provide full text of documents; check CRS errors and report them…in conclusion, I can now manage the information for systematic reviews.  Honestly, this is nothing if I go through studification and coding!

Animated flag of Iran.

Animated flag of Iran. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is just the start.  I was a short-term Clinical Librarian in an emergency department; I know how important it is to recognise good evidence and how effective it can be in practice.  Some people sit behind a desk and press the buttons on the keyboard to provide such evidence for clinicians, this is how they aid the process of systematic reviews.  I am one of those people and I’ll continue to do this any way I can.

My points after 40 days in the UK?  I’m not homesick because of Skype, hazelnut trees, raspberries, strawberries and squirrels!  Second, I really need more English!  And third, walking is the best fun for me as an introverted boy!

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