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Cochrane Library

A guide to searching and using the Cochrane Library

What is the Cochrane Library?

The Cochrane Library is a collection of databases that provide high-quality, independent evidence to support decision making in healthcare. You can view content from all the main databases by using any of the search options for the Cochrane Library.

These include:  

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

The Cochrane organisation started in the UK in the 1990s but is now a global network of researchers and Cochrane Reviews are one of the most highly regarded sources of healthcare evidence. 

This part of the Cochrane Library contains systematic reviews carried out by the Cochrane Review Groups; each group focuses on a specific healthcare topic and conducts systematic reviews in this area. The reviews are carried out using explicit systematic methods  which you can view in the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions. You can view the full text of all completed Cochrane Reviews in the Cochrane Library and also view the protocols for reviews that are currently in progress.

Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL)

CENTRAL is a database of randomised and quasi randomised controlled trials. The records come from a variety of published and unpublished sources including PubMed/MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, ClinicalTrials.gov, and the WHO's International Clinical Trials Registry Platform.

CENTRAL doesn't include the full text of the trials, but we have more information on ways to access them in the linking to full text section of this guide. 

Cochrane Clinical Answers

These are short answers to clinical questions to support point-of-care decision-making, using digested evidence from the relevant Cochrane Review. They include narratives, data, and links to graphics. 

Other content

The Cochrane Library also includes Special Collections, which collate research on specific healthcare topics and editorials. There is also content from Epistemonikos health evidence database, which is available on the basic and advanced search interfaces, and Health Systems Evidence and Social Systems Evidence from McMaster Health Forum's repositories, which is available on the basic search interface only.

Accessing the Cochrane Library

UCL staff and students and NHS staff can access the Cochrane Library from any computer at home or on campus. You can also access it from our A-Z list of databases.

There is free access in the UK and the Cochrane website has a list of countries where it is also freely accessible.

Navigating the Cochrane Library Homepage: Video