Ok, the headline is a little glib, and I don’t want to make fun of any actual addiction – but since discovering EMBASE screening at a HRB TMRN event on systematic reviews on Thursday last, I’ve been hooked.
EMBASE screening is very simple – as the Cochrane Collaboration Community Page on the project states “The project’s purpose is to identify reports of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-RCTs from EMBASE for publication in the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL)” Put simply , “The EMBASE project provides an opportunity for new and potential contributors to get involved with Cochrane work by diving into a task that needs doing. No prior experience is necessary as the task supports a ‘learn as you do’ approach. ”
Basically the screener is presented with a title and abstract (occasionally just a title) and has to decide if this is an RCT/quasi-RCT, definitely not an RCT/quasi-RCT, or impossible to tell. There are lots of checks and balances so one shouldn’t worry about making a mistake. The interface is very simple and a good, clear training module is provided before you get stuck it.
This is a much better way of passing a few minutes with a smart phone than checking news sites again or again, or whatever your poison is…. and along the way I have come across some intriguing abstracts such as this and this (neither of which is a RCT)