Training for reviewing

An interactive course for new and experienced patient/public reviewers of health and social care research

Now available

An interactive course for new and experienced reviewers of health and social care research, which has been produced by a team of public reviewers and patient and public involvement professionals with the NIHR.

Go straight to the modules


The course covers reviewing in all contexts for NIHR research funding programmes, plus skills and activities required at different levels and stages of research. It is designed for public contributors who are committee members as well as public reviewers.

Researchers may also find this resource useful when writing research funding applications. It can be used as a tool to understand how to get your Patient and Public Involvement right first time!

The course is online and freely available on this page. Each module is also available as an accessible version, to download as a pdf or as a powerpoint version.

Who’s it for?

  • Public contributors who have been asked to provide feedback on a research document or sit on a committee that assess several research documents.
  • Public contributors who are new to reviewing and those who want to know more.
  • Researchers, research managers and funders who want to understand what makes good Patient and Public Involvement and the public perspective.

How to use the course

  • Each module is stand alone. We suggest that you allow one or two hours for each module but we have designed it so you can dip in and out as your learning needs change.
  • As long as you use the same device (laptop, tablet etc.) you will come back to where you left off last time you visited. So feel free to take a break! You can see how far through you are by the page number on the top right hand side of the screen e.g. page 17/34 (page 17 of 34).
  • Modules 1 and 2 may suit the novice public reviewer and anyone new to the NIHR.
  • Module 3 may suit the more experienced reviewer who wishes to understand the detail of a public review. It is not a rule book but questions for you to have in mind whilst reviewing. Not all questions will apply to each document you review.
  • At the end of each module there is a completion certificate which you can download. All sections of the module have to be visited before the certificate can be accessed.

Why we developed this course

  • The course project team are passionate about the value of good PPI in research, used appropriately. Over half the team are NIHR public contributors who wanted to share what they have learnt on their own public reviewing journeys.
  • Early on we realised that there was not a freely available online resource for those people interested in reviewing research documents as a patient, carer, service user or member of the public.

We hope you enjoy the course! We wish you luck with your own public reviewing. We hope you enjoy it and gain from the experience.

Please do let us know what you think. Contact email:


Course development team:

David Green, Gary Hickey, Tracey Johns, Alison Ledward, Amanda Roberts, Heidi Surridge (lead), Doreen Tembo, Gail Thornton, Amander Wellings, Jane Whitehurst.

Our thanks go to:

  • The many individuals who provided feedback on the drafts of the course content.
  • Our colleagues across NIHR who have supported and contributed to the work, in particular Sylvia Bailey, Haydee Garcia, Bernie Newitt and Susannah Hopper.
  • Our multi-media developers at the University of Southampton for their creative thinking, skills and patience with the project team!
  • Resource acknowledgements: During the early stages of the course development the team accessed various existing resources to help us identify the gaps and make sure we didn’t reinvent the wheel! In particular we would like to thank teams who developed and if appropriate provided access to the following resources:
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