Clinical research articles and case studies reviewer checklist

Use this checklist when you’re reviewing clinical research articles and case studies.

Begin your review with a first read-through for an overall understanding of the paper by using the ‘first read-through’ checklist. Then proceed to a more detailed review with the ‘detailed review – clinical articles’ checklist.

First read through

  • Is it clear what the authors want to communicate; can you understand the main aims and conclusions of the manuscript?

  • Are you concerned about the phrasing, the language, or the presentation? Are revisions needed to make it possible to review?

  • Are the authors reporting on a clinical trial, systematic review, or case study, or is it another type of article?

  • How much impact do you think the study could have on how people think about this topic?

  • How novel or innovative is the work – either methodologically or in terms of the conclusions drawn?

  • Do you think the overall study design and approach meet the standards of your field?

  • Do you think the authors’ overall conclusions are in line with the analysis and the results?

Detailed review – Clinical articles

Please note that some of the points below may not apply to all articles. Take into consideration the field, as well as the focus and purpose of the work. 


  • Does the title express clearly what the manuscript is about? 

  • Does it contain the necessary keywords to make it “discoverable” by a reader in your field? 

  • Does it state the study design?

  • Does it contain any unnecessary description or jargon?

  • Would it be clear to someone with language barriers?


  • Is the abstract a short and clear summary of the aims, key methods, main findings, and conclusions?

  • Does it contain unnecessary information or undefined acronyms? 

  • Does it exaggerate or overstate the conclusions or their potential application/impact?


  • Does the introduction clearly summarize the current state of the topic? 

  • Does it address the limitations of current knowledge in this field?

  • Does it explain why the study was necessary?

  • Does it define the aim of the study and is this consistent with the rest of the manuscript?

  • Is the research question clear and appropriate?

Clinical trials methods

  • Are the study design and methods appropriate for the research question? 

  • Is it clear how participants were recruited and how samples were collected?

  • Is there any potential bias in the recruitment of participants?

  • Are the correct blinding and/or controls included?

  • Do you have any concerns about the ethics or consent processes?

  • Is there any risk of patients or participants being identified?

  • Have all the relevant supporting data been included?

  • Are the data described in the text consistent with the data in the figures and tables?

  • Have potential confounding factors been considered?

  • Has any randomization been done correctly?

  • Is the time frame of the study sufficient to see outcomes?

  • Is there sufficient power and appropriate statistical analysis?

  • Are any limitations of the study discussed?

  • Are any contradictory data discussed?

  • Does the paper conform to the relevant EQUATOR network guidance?

  • If the paper is reporting on a clinical trial, was the study registered in a WHO approved registry prior to the enrollment of participants? Does the protocol of the trial match the registered study?

Systematic reviews 

  • Are the search terms and inclusion/ exclusion criteria clearly described?

  • Are the search terms and criteria correct to ensure all the relevant articles are included?

  • If a meta-analysis has been done, were previous studies combined appropriately?

Case reports 

  • Does the diagnosis appear to be correct?

  • Was the treatment reasonable for the diagnosis? 

  • Are the treatment and outcomes clearly described? 

  • As far as possible, is the patient anonymous? 

  • Are the conclusions reasonable and not attempting to generalize to a wider population?

Tables and figures 

  • Are data presented in a clear and appropriate manner? 

  • Is the presentation of tables and figures consistent with their description and interpretation in the text?

  • Do the figure legends and table headings clearly explain what is shown?

  • Do the figures and tables include measures of uncertainty, such as standard error or confidence intervals, where required? Do they state the sample size?

  • Do you have any concerns about inappropriate manipulation of data? 

Discussion and conclusion

  • Do the authors logically explain their findings?

  • Do the authors compare their findings with current findings in the research field? 

  • Are the implications of the findings for future research and potential applications discussed? 

  • Are the conclusions supported by the data presented? 


  • Are there any key references missing? 

  • Are there places where the authors cite a review but should cite the original paper?

  • Are the cited studies an up-to-date representation of current knowledge? 

Final checks – before you submit your report

  • Have you given a brief summary of the article as you understand it, and highlighted the key messages? 

  • Have you given positive/general feedback as well as constructive criticism? 

  • Have you made it clear which of your concerns are major (significant points, essential for publication) or minor (smaller issues, may not be essential for publication)? 

  • Are your concerns specific, with examples where possible? 

  • Have you numbered your comments and referred to page/ line numbers in the article to make it easy for the authors to address your points? 

  • Is your feedback constructive, and focused on the research? 

  • If you were the authors, would you understand how to improve the manuscript? 

  • If you were the editor, would the comments be detailed enough to help you to make a decision?

  • Have you checked the spelling and grammar in your report? 

  • Have you included your comments in the correct places in the online system – checking that any confidential comments for editors are in the right place – and have you answered all the questions? 

I still have questions

Please read our extensive frequently asked questions for answers to common questions on reviewing a manuscript.

FAQs before review

FAQs during review

FAQs after submitting your report