The Cochrane Linked Data Project

The Linked Data Project was approved by the Cochrane Steering Group in 2014 following their review of a document "#CochraneTech to 2020" prepared by the Cochrane Linked Data Project Board.   The paper recommended a linked data approach that would allow Cochrane to make use of existing software and data stores, but would gradually extend and enhance them with linked data. 

Adopting this approach will enhance the sustainability of our organisation by:

  • improving efficiency in the development of our software and the production of Cochrane Reviews
  • enhancing visibility and flexibility of our content
  • facilitating the development of derivative products
  • presenting opportunities to exploit novel income streams by selling access to our data

What’s it about?

The goal of the linked data approach is to make finding, sharing and combining information easier.

Many developments in the near future will require us to rapidly explore new models for delivery of Cochrane content, with the possibility that the same content will be used in multiple ways for and by different end users, within and outside the Collaboration.

What’s the plan?

We propose a three-stage implementation plan:

  1. Foundation: putting people and systems in place
  2. Exploration: exploring a set of case studies to test our processes
  3. Production: using our linked data approaches to address critical components of producing, publishing and using evidence

Linked Data

“Thinking outside the container of the Review”

The linked data approach allows the possibility for machines (i.e. a computer program) to interact with our data and for applications to built that use our data. Our disparate databases, such as CRS and Archie, can be better integrated with this approach and interfaces built for our publisher and others to consume our data.

Our experience with the linked data project to date has convinced us that it has potential to become an “enabling technology” for the Collaboration that could allow us to do more with our data, including opening up new revenue streams in the form of derivative products and rich data services to partners and third parties.

A fundamental change will be that we must decouple various pieces of Cochrane content from the user interfaces that have previously been used to generate or use them.  Our current approach is like building a railway system and keeping track of all the train schedules, while the new approach involves designing a highway system and letting people drive their own cars.