If you’re a patient living with disease, or a patient advocate acting on the behalf of someone or for a patient group with a medical condition, we’d like to invite you to take part in a unique initiative. The BMJ has committed to improve the patient centredness of BMJ research, education, and analysis articles by asking patients to comment on them. We’d like you to volunteer to become a “patient reviewer."
If you already review for The BMJ as a researcher or clinician but you are also interested in reviewing as a patient/patient advocate you can do this too. We will, however, need you to register a new account with a different personal email address, using the guidance below so that we can distinguish your role as a patient reviewer versus a traditional peer reviewer.
When medical researchers or clinicians complete their study they write a paper presenting their methods, findings, and conclusions and send that to a scientific journal (like The BMJ) to be considered for publication. If the journal’s editors think a paper, review, or commentary, might be suitable they send the paper out to other scientists and specialist experts who research, practice, and publish in the same field asking them to:
The scientists assessing the papers are called referees or reviewers, and the whole process is called peer review. The aim of peer review is to reject poor quality studies, promote good ones, and offer feedback and constructive criticism to researchers so they can improve the clarity and impact of their paper.
As a patient reviewer, we will ask you to register your details on our editorial database listing any medical conditions you have had or for which you are a patient advocate (for example, cancer, heart disease, or stroke). Also please indicate if you have special interest and expertise in advancing patient partnership through shared decision making, promoting self management and patient leadership, co designing services, etc.
If a suitable paper is submitted to The BMJ, an editor will search the database looking for patient reviewers with some experience on the topic of the article that is being reviewed. Don’t worry, you don’t need to have any medical or scientific training, because we’ll be asking you to consider a slightly different set of questions than the traditional peer reviewers. As a patient reviewer we’d like you to answer questions like:
By answering these questions you will be giving the editors your perspective on the patient focused aspects of selected manuscripts, drawing on your experience of a particular topic, condition, or intervention. You will also gain a unique insight into how medical research is conducted and the way educational articles are published for doctors. It’s your opportunity to have a real voice in shaping the way researchers and clinicians act, and to further their understanding on what is most important to, and of benefit to patients. To say thank you, all reviewers get a year's free online subscription to bmj.com. We also name and thank all peer reviewers annually on our website.
Interested in volunteering? Here are a few more things you should know.
We’re glad you’re willing to get started. The first step is to register yourself on our reviewer database. Remember, the software that powers our database was designed to register researchers rather than patients. Once your account is ready, you’ll receive a notification by email if you’ve been asked to review a paper. If you run in to any problems or have any questions that haven’t been answered here, please email Tessa Richards (firstname.lastname@example.org), and if you have any problems logging onto our system please email email@example.com. Thanks again for volunteering your time and helping to get the patient voice heard.