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June 16, 2021

Introducing innovations: Crowdsourcing the next iteration of our Evidence and Gap Maps

Guillermo Rodríguez-Guzmán

The Centre for Homelessness is building a network of like-minded people who share our commitment to gather the best evidence and data from around the world and to use it to bring a sustainable end to homelessness. Every day we try to think of new ways to do this more quickly, exploring methods which are innovative and build on best practice from other fields.

Our next step on this journey is to ask community workers, students, researchers, those who experienced homelessness, and any interested volunteer to work with us to seek out new and more up to date evidence on proven ways to end homelessness.

The purpose is to update our Evidence and Gap Maps (EGM), which are designed to put the most reliable evidence on homelessness from across the globe at people’s fingertips. We need like-minded people to help to build them further so that the most robust evidence available is organised and summarised in a way that can be used to inform policy and practice.Before the creation of our Evidence Tools, there was no single place where practitioners and researchers could find all the existing evidence, summarise its findings, and identify any gaps. By creating the Evidence and Gap Maps, the Centre was bringing an innovation to the homelessness sector working together with our partners at the Campbell Collaboration. 

Continuing with this commitment to bringing new methods to the homelessness sector, we have also partnered with Cochrane, one of the most well-known producers of systematic reviews, to pilot the use of ‘Cochrane Crowd’; a new approach that can help speed up the process of screening relevant research on homelessness. Since its launch in May 2016, the Cochrane Crowd citizen science platform has enabled over 18,000 people from 158 countries to classify more than 4.5 million records. For this new version of our Evidence and Gap Maps, we are asking interested volunteers to examine titles and abstracts to locate relevant publications which may be relevant to our maps.

Helping is easy. You don’t need to be an expert in systematic reviews or homelessness interventions. After completing a very short training module which should not take more than 30 minutes to complete, you will be ready to join in. 

You can screen as many titles and abstracts as you wish - every single one counts. If you screen 100 or more records, you will be issued with a certificate of participation from Cochrane, Campbell Collaboration and CHI. If you screen 250 or more, you will be acknowledged in the EGM report when it is published.

If you are interested and want to learn more, see below for information about next steps and frequently asked questions. And do also share this opportunity with your friends, colleagues, students, and anyone else interested in putting the best evidence of ‘what works’ to end homelessness at the fingertips of decision-makers. The next version of the Effectiveness EGM will be published in Autumn 2021. For more information, please take a look at the FAQ below or get in touch with the team at hello@homelessnessimpact.org


Where do I go to find  The Centre for Homelessness Impact’s module?

First, create a Cochrane account using the sign-up button on the website. Once you’ve created an account, select the ‘Dive In’ option on the homepage.

Next, scroll to the bottom of the following webpage to find the ‘Effectiveness of interventions to improve the welfare of those experiencing or at risk of homelessness’ option. This will take you to a training session which should not take more than 30 minutes to complete. Once completed you will be able to screen for eligible studies. 

But I don’t know anything about systematic reviews or homelessness – does that matter?

Don’t worry if you are new to these topics. We’ve put together a brief, interactive training module. It won’t make you an expert in homelessness but it should give you the information you need to perform this task well.

Why are we doing this?

This is a collaboration between the Centre for Homelessness Impact, Campbell Collaboration and Cochrane. We are committed to strengthen the evidence base about homelessness interventions. With a highly collaborative approach, working with practitioners, students, academics, and anyone interested we are piloting the Cochrane Crowd approach that will allow us to produce our Evidence and Gap Maps faster and more effectively - bringing evidence to the fingertips of decision makers with your help!

Can anyone join this task?

Yes. You just need to complete the simple training module and you will be good to go!

How long will this task be around for?

This task will be live for two weeks. There are about 5,000 records to go through so hopefully two weeks will be enough time to get through the lot. If not, we’ll extend the deadline a bit.

What do I get out of this?

If you screen 100 or more records, you will be issued with a certificate of participation. If you screen 250 or more records as part of this task, you will be acknowledged by name in the review when it is published. However, this is entirely voluntary and you will be asked in advance whether you would like to be identified. 

Can I feed back my thoughts?

We will be sending out a brief survey at the end of this pilot exercise where you will be able to feedback your thoughts. However, if you have any questions, queries or suggestions in the meantime please don’t hesitate to email at crowd@cochrane.org and hello@homelessnessimpact.org 

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