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Can the lay public enhance peer review?

Lay community peer reviewThe medical publishing community is growing ever more enthused with the concept of ‘patient centricity’. Organisations such as the European Cancer Patient Coalition champion the concept of “nothing about us without us” and The BMJ continues to build on its ‘patient partnership strategy’, by requiring that all articles submitted to the journal include a patient involvement statement, and by including patients as peer reviewers. Now a new study aims to further evaluate the potential for members of the public to act as reviewers for journal articles.

The randomised controlled trial, which has not yet begun recruiting participants, will see 568 manuscripts, submitted to one of two journals, reviewed either by scientific reviewers only (the ‘control’ group) or by scientific reviewers as well as one of 24 lay members of the public. The lay trial participants will receive training in reviewing manuscripts and will adhere to journal requirements. Reviewed articles will proceed through the journals’ editorial review processes as normal, with editors using all available reviews to aid their decisions.

The study investigators hypothesise that lay review comments will prove useful to journal editors and will have a clear impact on published manuscripts. They suggest that lay reviewers “will be more likely to comment on relevance to patients and communities, subject diversity, social context, and implementation barriers”.


Summary by Hannah Mace MPharmacol, CMPP from Aspire Scientific

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