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The Cochrane Collaboration 'in the making': an Actor-Network perspective

Date and Location




Friday 20 September 2013 - 15:30 - 17:00


Presenting author and contact person

Presenting author

Karin Hannes

Contact person

Karin Hannes
Abstract text
Background: Drawing on the Actor-Network Theory (ANT), we will explore the dynamics of the Cochrane Collaboration (CC); how different agencies and mechanisms have translated CC from a bunch of 80 likeminded people from around the world that attended the first Cochrane meeting in Oxford (October 1993) in what CC is today. Objectives: To visually map the development process of CC, with a particular focus on some of the ‘ancient’ and ‘recent’ methodological developments. To critically explore the role of non-human agencies such as methodological standards, systematic reviews, computer software, impact factors and libraries in shaping CC. Methods: Our methodological stance towards exploring CC’s development is an Actor-Network perspective. Actor-Network Theory (ANT) aims to explore how particular practices are being fabricated by means of actors populating these practices and more precisely by means of the interactions and relations between all these actors. ANT is then used as both a conceptual and a methodological lens in order to describe the concrete assemblage of CC. Results: A visual map of the CC that emphasizes its role as both an actant and a network is displayed. Attention will be focused on the initial interessement phase initiated by Iain Chalmers, the enrolment and mobilisation process of different human and non-human actors into the collaboration. We particularly focus on the standardisation of methodological procedures for reviews and assisting software, which we consider the policy vehicles that highly influence the further (non)enrolment of particular agencies. Conclusions: The insights of ANT are used to place the ‘successful story’ of the Cochrane Actant-Network into a more realistic perspective, visually emphasizing the many agencies that did not (yet) fully make it into the CC actor network and as such affecting its stabilisation process (visual mapping work currently in progress – small fragment included for review purposes).