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The Bill Silverman Prize

Presentation at The Cochrane Collaboration’s Annual General Meeting, Thursday 20 October (16:45 to 18:30)  

Bill Silverman

William Silverman, MD

William (Bill) Silverman (1924-2004) was one of the founders of American neonatal medicine. He was honoured repeatedly as one of the pioneers in his specialty; however, he often evoked somewhat contradictory responses amongst his colleagues because he was in the habit of raising troubling questions about the scientific basis and ethics of his and their practices. Like many of the people who have helped to establish The Cochrane Collaboration, Bill Silverman could be regarded as a 'troublemaker'. As he reiterated frequently, however, criticism is a form of troublemaking that can help to drive progress. Furthermore, criticism should not be limited to examining the work of others, but should also include self-criticism.


Bill Silverman Prize

The Bill Silverman Prize acknowledges explicitly the value of criticism of The Cochrane Collaboration, with a view to helping to improve its work, and thus achieve its aim of helping people make well-informed decisions about health care by providing the best possible evidence on the effects of healthcare interventions. The establishment of the Prize was approved by the Cochrane Collaboration Steering Group in 2007, and awarded for the first time in early 2008.

The Prize is offered annually and the authors of a piece of research published or presented in the preceding 12 months (July to June) will be eligible. The criteria for the Prize are that the publication or presentation evaluated any aspect of the preparation, maintenance or dissemination of Cochrane reviews or the work of The Cochrane Collaboration more generally, and:

  • was of high quality;
  • was accompanied by constructive suggestions on how the relevant aspects of the work of The Cochrane Collaboration could be improved; and
  • has had, or is likely to have, a positive impact on the scientific quality, relevance and use of Cochrane reviews.


The prize comprises a cash award of US$1,000 and a certificate. The cash award goes to the corresponding author of the selected publication or presentation. The Prize Committee calls for nominations for the Prize in May. Nominations can be made by anyone, including the authors of the publication or presentation being nominated.

Bill Silverman Prize Committee

The Prize Committee comprises five members, at least three of whom do not have an active role within any Cochrane entity. Members of the Committee for 2011 are David Moher (internal Co-Chair), Bill Summerskill (external Co-Chair), David Atkins, Katharina Biester and Alex Ford.

Previous recipients

2010 - Alex Ford et al. Errors in the conduct of systematic reviews of pharmacological interventions for irritable bowel syndrome. Am J Gastroenterol 2010;105:208-288;doi:10.1038/ajg.2009.658; published online 17 November 2009.

2009 - David Moher et al. Epidemiology and reporting characteristics of systematic reviews. PLoS Medicine 4(3):e78.doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040078.

2008 - Katharina Biester et al. High dropout rates in trials included in Cochrane reviews. Oral presentation at the 14th Cochrane Colloquium, Dublin, Ireland, October 2006.