Consumer review

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Cochrane consumers

Cochrane's healthcare consumers are made up from a wide range of people: patients or people with personal experience of a healthcare condition, health and social care service users, care-givers and family members, and people who represent or are advocates for patients and carers.

Consumer involvement is vital to Cochrane’s work as it:

  • promotes transparency, accountability and trust in the way that research is produced;
  • results in evidence that addresses consumers’ needs, reduces waste in research, improves the translation of research into policy and practice, and ultimately leads to improved benefits for health systems and outcomes for patients;
  • is consistent with current health research approaches and is expected or mandated by our funders, partners and consumers. 

Read more about the Statement of Principles for Consumer Involvement in Cochrane here

Find out more about the Cochrane Consumer Network here, and how to join here.

Consumer reviewers and PaPaS

"Peer review" is a refereeing process for topic specialists to check the quality and relevance of reviews.

We value the input of consumer reviewers who can help improve the quality of our Cochrane Reviews by:

  • providing a consumer perspective by commenting on the "Plain Language Summary" of the review;
  • commenting on a Cochrane Review prior to publication;
  • commenting on protocols (the road map as to how the review is to be done) to ensure it includes relevant outcomes.

We follow the 2019 Cochrane peer review policy and aim to include at least one consumer reviewer for each of our protocols and reviews. See below for a summary of the PaPaS peer review process for consumers.

All peer reviewers and consumer reviewers must declare any potential conflicts of interest every time they undertake peer review. See Cochrane's policy on conflict of interest and Cochrane Reviews here.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Peer review process for consumers

  • When our draft protocol or review is ready for peer review, we send out a request for consumer reviewers, for example on Task Exchange, Twitter, or the Cochrane Consumer mailing list. (We also seek at least two other specialist peer reviewers with expertise in the topic area (see our peer review page for more information).)

  • Once the consumer reviewer has been identified, we send a copy of the draft review, as well as a checklist of questions, via a 'ticket' email from our database, 'Archie'. This email contains all the information required to complete the task, including useful links, a suggested deadline, and our contact details. You can see some example emails and checklists here.

  • We allow at least two weeks for our reviewers to prepare feedback and submit the completed checklist via the ticket link, but this timeline is flexible and can be discussed. It may take a few hours to complete a full assessment, but the actual amount of time taken will depend on the content of the individual protocol or review. We are available to provide support and answer questions, if needed. Reviewers are always free to change their mind if they decide they no longer have the availability to complete the task.

  • The peer review process for PaPaS is managed by the Managing Editor or Assistant Managing Editor. All of our reviews are checked by members of the editorial team before peer review starts (for a 'step by step' account of the development process for PaPaS reviews, please visit the protocol, review or update development pages for more details).

  • Once all peer reviewer and consumer reviewer comments have been submitted, they are collated into one document and sent to the review authors. The peer review process is open, which means the reviewers' and authors' names will not be hidden.

  • The authors are given a few weeks to revise the review and prepare their responses. Authors must provide a point-by-point response to peer review comments indicating how they have been addressed, or explaining why they have not been addressed.

  • Once the review is published, all reviewers are sent a copy of the final publication, as well as the collated comments and author responses. Note that this may be a few months after peer review to allow for author revisions, editorial checks, and copy edit (see our step by step pages).

  • The names of all consumer reviewers are published on our website (see the list here) and in the Acknowledgements section of the review, unless they opt out.

We are always available to offer any support or guidance to consumer reviewers. Please don't hesitate to contact us with your comments or queries.