Peer review

***The Cochrane PaPaS Group closes on 31 March 2023 and this website will be archived; please contact with any questions***

The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) is a peer reviewed publication, which means that every Cochrane Review is evaluated by one or more specialists external to the CRG editorial team before publication, and the Cochrane Review authors have the opportunity to revise the Cochrane Review in response to feedback. The peer reviewed status of all types of article published in the CDSR is outlined in the 2019 Cochrane peer review policy.

Peer reviewers and PaPaS

We follow the Cochrane peer review policy and seek at least two external peer reviewers for every protocol and review, and we aim to include at least one consumer reviewer, too (more information about consumers here). The peer review process is open. Peer reviewers must declare any potential conflicts of interest every time they undertake peer review of a Cochrane Review. See Cochrane's policy on conflict of interest and Cochrane Reviews here.

See below for a brief summary of the PaPaS peer review process. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Peer review process

  • When our draft protocol or review is ready for peer review, we contact individuals with an invitation. We may also circulate the request more widely, for example on Task Exchange or Twitter.

  • Upon acceptance of the invitation, we send a copy of the manuscript, 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 protocolreview 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 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 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.