The idea of LATITUDES started back in 2013 at the Cochrane Methods Symposium ‘DOUG’, dedicated to the contributions of Professor Doug Altman to evidence synthesis, held after the 2013 Cochrane Colloquium in Quebec City, Canada.
Penny, Jelena and Robert developed the idea and the acronym ‘LATITUDES’ during the symposium. The acronym intentionally aligns with that of the EQUATOR Network as both intend to disseminate the best methods and practice for evidence synthesis.
We had informal discussions with Doug and other delegates at the symposium to assess the need for such a resource and learned that the EQUATOR regularly gets requests for advice on risk of bias tools, which they do not provide. Doug also helpfully pointed out that our first sketch of the LATITUDES logo had lines of longitude rather than latitude which we quickly corrected!
On the same day we purchased the domain name for the LATITUDES Network and started the process of trying to secure funding. This included extending our core group to include Iveta Simera (EQUATOR Network) and establishing our advisory board to provide support and feedback on the LATITUDES Network. Obtaining funding, proved more challenging than we had expected and despite positive feedback four separate funding applications, submitted in 2014 and 2015, were unsuccessful.
In 2017, we decided to make a start on the process of establishing the LATITUDES Network, without specific funding for the initiative. We conducted a survey of our advisory board members and other stakeholders to gain feedback on:
- Scope of LATITUDES
- Criteria for inclusion of tools on the website
- Criteria to highlight key tools on the website
- Information to include on the library for each tool
- How to identify tools for inclusion on LATITUDES
The survey was disseminated widely with the survey link shared as part of a presentation to the Global Evidence Synthesis conference in Cape Town in 2017.
Other work pressures, particularly arising from the COVID pandemic, meant that we are unable to make much progress with LATITUDES, until 2022 when Jelena fortuitously met Beth at a conference and training workshop in Denver, USA in the summer of 2022. Beth had secured some funding for a similar idea and was able join forces with us to move forward with the LATITUDES Network. We revised the results of our 2017 survey, this forms the basis of the structure and content of the website available today.
We reassembled our advisory group in April 2023 to ensure that they were supportive of our plans moving forward, and to suggest any changes where they did not agree with any of the proposals. the website was formally launched at the Cochrane Colloquium in London, Septmber 2023.