In this ‘Meet the CIDG staff’ feature we chat with Melissa Taylor, who joined the CIDG editorial base as a Research Assistant in November 2019. Melissa is authoring several qualitative evidence synthesis titles with the CIDG, including ‘Mass drug administration for filariasis: community views and programme design influences’ and ‘Community views on active case finding for tuberculosis in low‐ and middle‐income countries’, and is also currently undertaking a PhD.
Could you describe where you currently work and what you do there?
I work as a research assistant in evidence synthesis for CIDG, based at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), where I am also working part-time towards a PhD.
What is a typical day for you?
On a typical day I am usually co-authoring Cochrane reviews, assisting with editorial processes such as peer review, or working on my PhD.
What prompted you to work in this area?
I enjoyed learning about epidemiology and global health during my undergraduate degree and so decided to pursue an MSc in International Public Health at LSTM. Whilst studying, I found the idea of producing reviews that can directly impact global policy incredibly motivating and was keen to be involved in such a dynamic field.
What are the major challenges that still remain in your field?
I am interested in how qualitative evidence (such as the newly emerging field of qualitative evidence synthesis within Cochrane) can support and inform policy decisions. The involvement of consumer voices in guideline processes and agenda setting is increasingly important and relevant and I am currently exploring this with my PhD research.
How did you first hear about Cochrane?
During my MSc I completed a module titled “Systematic Reviews for Policy and Practice” lead by Prof. Paul Garner. I had the opportunity to read and appraise several Cochrane reviews and learnt about its contribution to global health policy first-hand from one of its co-ordinating editors.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being involved with Cochrane?
The variety in my work; being involved with several priority topic areas and methodologies means I am constantly learning and meeting people from different backgrounds and disciplines.
Who (or what) has been the biggest influence on your career to date?
The support and guidance from my CIDG colleagues has been so important in my development from student to early career researcher. I’m glad to have had plenty of opportunities that challenged me and facilitated the development new skills and expertise.
Please list three words you would associate with Cochrane.
Rigor, quality, impact
What do you do in your spare time?
I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, such as our evening zoom yoga session and exploring the city on a weekend.
The CIDG editorial base is located at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in Liverpool, UK. The CIDG is led by Professor Paul Garner (Co-ordinating Editor) and Deirdre Walshe (Managing Editor). Over 600 authors from some 52 countries contribute to the preparation of the Cochrane Reviews. They are supported by an international team of Editors, each with topic or methodological expertise.
The CIDG’s main areas of work are on determination of the effects of interventions on the prevention or treatment infectious diseases of relevance to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and neglected tropical diseases. The aims of the CIDG are to impact on policy and research in tropical diseases through the production of high quality and relevant systematic reviews, and to lead developments in review quality improvement and effective dissemination of findings.