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Become a reviewer

We recruit and support patients, carers and members of the public to give feedback on health and social care research funding applications.

It's a nice feeling to know that you are part of something that will help change and improve things in the bigger picture.

-Rosie Forder - Public Reviewer

As well as members of the public, reviews are sought from health care professionals, researchers, health economists and other professionals.  This means that you only need to give us your opinion based on your experience of being a patient, carer or user of health and social care services


What will happen if you are invited to do a review?

You can sign up to review potential research through our online Reviewer Match service.

Once you have registered as a public reviewer, you may be invited to review research proposals for one of two NIHR coordinating centres:

  • the NIHR Central Commissioning Facility (CCF)
  • the NIHR Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre (NETSCC).

The type of documents you may be asked to review include a research or commissioning brief and a research funding application.

What is a research or commissioning brief?

A research or commissioning brief is developed by the NIHR. It describes a potential area of research.  A public reviewer will help decide whether the proposed research topic should be advertised. Researchers can then apply to do research in the advertised area.

What is a research funding application?

Researchers applying for NIHR funding complete a form describing what research they want to do and how they want to do it. A public reviewer will help to inform the funding committee as to whether the research should be funded.

 You would read the documents at home and submit comments online.

The reviewing process 

  1. The proposal - We receive a document proposing a research study.
  2. The right match - The research topic of the document is matched to a member of the public who has personal experience as a patient, carer or member of the public who is affected by the issues being researched.
  3. The review - The patient, carer or member of the public reads and assesses the application’s strengths and weaknesses.
  4. The funding decision -  Public and professional/scientific reviewers’ comments are fed back  to researchers applying for funding and to the research advisory committee which makes funding decisions.

Guidance and support

 We’ve developed an interactive training course for the public on reviewing funding applications for research. The training includes a module on things to consider when reviewing a research commissioning brief or funding application.

 You may wish to consider these ‘top tips’ created with public reviewers and also hear from some of the people involved in reviewing.

Payment for reviewing work might affect those in receipt of state benefits or those working in the public sector. For free, confidential advice you can contact the Benefits Advice Service.

 NIHR INVOLVE have useful information if you would like to find out more about getting involved in research.

 Guidance is available on what's involved in the review process for research proposals submitted to CCF or NETSCC.

The NIHR Dissemination Centre works with a number of professional and public contributors throughout the entire dissemination process. The centre encourages regular input from external stakeholders to ensure that the views of key audiences are at the heart of everything it does and one of the ways the centre does this is to use raters for our Signals.

Every week, the NIHR Dissemination Centre’s editorial board meet to discuss which abstracts should be turned into Signals. Before the abstracts are discussed, they are sent to professional and public raters for feedback on its relevance and importance to decision makers and patients.

Why do we have raters?

Raters provide important feedback on research abstracts. This feedback is then used in the Dissemination Centre’s editorial meetings to decide which studies to summarise and publish as NIHR Signals.

Why become a rater?

Being a rater gives you the opportunity to use your knowledge and experience to shape what the NIHR produce. Whether you are a patient who has experience of a condition or a clinician who specialises in treating it, you will be sent research abstracts to rate that are relevant to your area of interest.

Who can become a rater?

There is a rating role for everyone. Healthcare practitioners, other NHS staff, public health staff and researchers can all join in a professional capacity. Patients and carers can join to bring their personal experience of health and social care.

What does being a rater involve?

As a rater, you would be asked to read selected research abstracts and assess their likely importance to health and social care audiences. The centre wants to know if you think research findings seem interesting enough to recommend to a colleague or discuss with others. You do not need to have a complete knowledge of a clinical or research area.

Improve decision making

As a rater you can help the NIHR put research evidence at the heart of decision making in health and social care. You will be helping clinicians, commissioners, managers, patients and service users to see evidence about which treatments and practices are most effective and provide the best use of resources.

Public raters are also eligible for a small payment for each rating they undertake, please see below.

Find out more information on rater guidance

Sign up to become a rater today.

Payments to public raters

Public (non-professional) raters are offered a small honorarium payment for each abstract rated (£5).  If you are a public rater, keep the acknowledgement e-mails sent after you have rated an abstract and use them as reference when claiming your payments. Payments to raters are made twice per year.