Table 1

Peer review template for patients and other novice reviewers

Name of journalInsert the name of the journal here
The journal’s area of focusType the area of focus here (eg, oncology and health literacy)
Title of manuscriptInsert the title of the manuscript you are reviewing
Link to review websitePaste here a link to the journal’s online form where you need to submit your review
  • Be constructive. Think about advice or recommendations you can make to improve the paper

  • Keep the review short; 2–3 paragraphs in total are enough

  • Add tips you learn here

1. Summarise what the paper is about in two to three sentences
Example: “This is an interview study of 53 people living with metastatic cancer about their perspective on physicians’ use of the computer during follow-up visits. The findings are similar to other studies the authors cite (basically, most patients don’t seem to mind when doctors are using the computer). The study question was developed in partnership with the hospital’s patient–family advisory council.”
Write your summary here
2. Summarise your opinion of the manuscript and what the authors may need to address
Example: “What makes this paper interesting is that it was conducted at a community hospital and not at a major cancer centre. Assuming the oncology clinic also serves people with many different types of cancer, my main suggestion is to pare down the paper and make THAT the thrust of the findings: for example, 53 patients’ attitudes towards computers in the examination room at community hospitals are similar to those of patients who receive care at major cancer centres. Beyond consulting the hospital PFAC at the outset, the authors did not mention working with patients on any other aspects of the study—please elaborate more on how else patient advisors may have been involved.”
Write your summary here
3. Major comments: provide feedback on major aspects of the paper
Comments here will depend on the paper, and patient reviewers should feel comfortable knowing their most important insights might be reflective of their lived experiences—you are not expected to comment on methods or statistics. Things to think about here may include the following: Did the authors give enough background to justify why the research question was important? Were the authors clear about their objectives? Did you notice any problems with the results? Did the authors detail the strengths and limitations of the study? Were the conclusions supported by the research? Was anything missing from the paper? Were the figures and/or tables clearly laid out? Do you have any suggestions on how to make the paper more useful for patient readers?
Write your comments here
4. Provide feedback on the quality of the writing
Think about the following: Was the writing clear? Was the writing grammatically correct? Was the referencing complete? Detail any minor comments such as stylistic issues, missing references, typos or queries you think the reviewers need to address
Example: “The tone and writing style of this manuscript are chaotic; I suggest one of the authors review and edit it one more time so it reads like it is coming from one voice.”
Give your writing feedback here
5. Make a specific recommendation to the journal’s editor
Options may include the following:
  • Accept for publication with minor revisions.

  • Accept for publication with major revisions.

  • Reject for publication.

Be clear whether you recommend ’reject’ or ‘no revisions’.
Example: “To editor: The purpose and implementation of the study are incomprehensible. It’s not just the writing there is no discernible study design.”
Write your recommendation and justification for that recommendation here
6. Share a statement of limitations with the editor and/or authors (optional)
If there is a technical aspect of the manuscript in which you felt unprepared/unqualified to comment on, it is OK to be candid with the journal editor and/or authors. Adding a statement like this is uncommon, but such feedback is important for fair and honest review
Example: “To editor: Aspects of this manuscript I am unable to comment on include statistical analyses and medical ethics.”
Comment on your own review limitations here