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The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is interested in leveraging new collaborative technologies to improve communications within and between various programs within its purview. To investigate some possibilities, the ECRI Institute Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC) was charged with examining the feasibility of using a wiki to support the collaborative development of evidence reports, technical briefs, and systematic reviews by AHRQ's EPCs. A wiki is "a type of Web page designed so that its content can be edited by anyone who accesses it, using a simplified markup language," according to The Oxford English Dictionary. Wikis could serve multiple purposes in the workflow for EPCs. In addition to serving as a mechanism for reviewing draft reports, wikis could be used in earlier stages of topic refinement and report development, such as in the developmental phases of key questions, inclusion/exclusion criteria, and search strategies. The wiki could serve as a collaborative platform for general methods development and methodology-related discussions and potentially could facilitate submission of topic nominations by partner organizations and public stakeholders.
At AHRQ's request, this study explores access, governance, and policy issues related to using a wiki for peer review of reports, and its feasibility and potential in the longer term as a platform for report publication, updating, and dissemination. It also explains technical and operational considerations involved with different types of wikis and addresses other points of interest, such as issues of Section 508 compliance.