She sat there in a pre-Christmas haze watching the tweets cascade off the bottom of her phone. One of them suddenly attracted her attention:

Evidence Synthesis Hackathon


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It brought back memories of the CEE conference from spring 2018 when friendship and apple blossom filled the Paris air.

This tweet was the start of an adventure both personally and professionally. Applications were written and funding achieved; in a matter of weeks she was planning a trip to Canberra in  spring (UK)/autumn(Australia) with the hope of friendships yet to be made, discussions to be part of and work to be worked.

She travelled by train, plane, coach and car to arrive, like all the others, wide eyed with expectation and nervous about what this ‘hackathon’ was all about and how it would work.

However, there was no need to be nervous. It was a smallish group of people who were passionate about evidence synthesis..phew…

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There were coders, programmers, evidence synthesis newbies and evidence synthesis veterans (have a look at the folks who came). People had travelled from here, there and everywhere to be part of this working together adventure.

Coders coded

People talked

People listened

Plans were made

Drafts were written

Everyone slacked


There was talk of the:

Metaverse which pulls together other packages to work towards doing a whole SR using R

Forestr – an interactive forest plotter which helps you to create a forest plot simply and easily with nice sliding scales and an interactive interface

Big data references DB where LOTS of references were pulled in to do text analysis which will certainly help the searchers out there

Evidence synthesis utopia/dystopia and how we, as a community, can help shape it and direct it

Grey literature search recorder, again, for the searchers out there to help increase transparency and reproducability of web searching. Christopher Perkin’s blog explains it much more clearly with links to the extension

Weaving and integration to increase the interoperability of existing tools which will certainly help those not so good at the tech

Citizen screening for a systematic map on global insect populations

Synthesisable primary data, a discussion idea on not just how to make the references findable but suggestions on how content can be standardised to make it machine readable




Ideas which had only been whispered about in back rooms or in the ether were now becoming concrete and excitement filled the air in those three days in Canberra where connections were made and papers drafted.

IMG-20190410-WA0008There will be another hackathon in another city with some familiar faces where the hand of friendship will be extended to new faces. The hope from this information specialist is that more of those who search become part of this way of working and embrace the wonderful world of the hackathon which was brought to us all by Neal Haddaway and Martin Westgate