Governance Organization

CHA – Children’s Hospital Academic Medical Organization

Project Title

CHA-21-003 – Evidence Hackathons: An alternative to academic conferences in the COVID-19 environment and beyond

Project Highlights

In 2019, I conceptualized an event called the Evidence Hackathon (EH). The EH can be run as a stand-alone event, or be designed to accompany a scientific conference/meeting. Briefly, during an EH the scientific or medical community identify one or more timely research questions that can be answered through Systematic or Scoping Review (SR) methodologies. EH participants receive training on SR methodology and specific question-related content, then come together as teams on the insightScope SR crowdsourcing platform to rapidly complete the thousands of tasks required to complete each SR. As a conference or scientific meeting event, it is essential that EH progress be made visible online and in real time to the broader medical community. Preliminary findings are shared at the end of the EH, with presentation of final results at a post conference webinar – all intended to rapidly translate new knowledge and advance evidence-based healthcare delivery. We hypothesized that EHs would drastically improve the conference experience for attendees by providing increased opportunities for engagement, education, networking and scholarly production. Further, the proposed approach and system could be used as a public health emergency response tool.

Outcome 1: Recognizing the potential value of EH to scientific communities and conferences it was unclear how the impact could be evaluated. A rapid review of literature failed to identify a validated, quantitative assessment tool. Therefore, we undertook a large scoping review of existing literature to identify studies that evaluated medical conferences. We screened ~1000 citations, identified 81 eligible studies, extracted data in duplicate, and performed a mixed quantitative qualitative analysis to develop a framework for evaluating medical conferences. This scoping review led to two separate manuscripts: one describing the conference literature and evaluation framework, and a second focused on motivations of conference attendees.

Outcome 2: We also conducted the inaugural EH within the pediatric critical care scientific community to perform a large scoping review on pediatric chronic critical illness. The scoping review question and methodology was presented at scientific meetings for the Canadian Critical Care Trials Group and the Pediatric Acute Lung Injury & Sepsis Investigators Network to recruit team members and seek input on the scoping review protocol. We assisted the PI with recruitment of a team of 28, with representation from 11 countries. Through a combination of crowdsourcing and computer assisted title/abstract screening, the team screened ~25000 citations in duplicate and abstracted data in duplicate from 67 eligible studies in a period of 42 days. To put this in perspective, a review of this size would typically take several months to years to complete. The results of this scoping review were then presented back to the pediatric critical care community at a subsequent Canadian Critical Care Trials Group scientific meeting, and at the 2021 Canadian Critical Care Forum. Further, using the evaluation framework identified during our conference scoping review, we were able to seek feedback from EH participants on their experience, and refine our approach for future events.

Outcome 3: Feedback received from investigative teams performing crowdsourced SR indicate that the PI and participants would benefit from a means to see project progress and timelines, and to better understand and interact with their team. As a result, in collaboration with the SLIDE – Social Innovation Lab at Algonquin College, we designed and built a website based dashboard. The dashboard presents a user-friendly and easily accessible overview of project stages and timelines. In addition, team members can see project progress within each stage of the SR process. Finally, the dashboard presents an overview of the EH team, including a map feature of where team members are located and a project leaderboard.


Public Health Measures and Society

Primary Project Lead for Contact

Dayre McNally


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