Best Evidence Medical and Health Professional Education

Stage 1: Topic Registration 

Selection of a topic/question for a review

The principal emphasis in the selection of a topic/question for review is a ‘bottom-up’ approach, with proposals coming from prospective reviewers. The review group works with the BEME Central administration to define the precise scope and nature of the topic/question being considered for review. It is essential to describe the topic/question as accurately as possible to ensure that the best evidence is retrieved and considered for the review. Points to consider are:

Does topic focus and inform. A BEME review topic/question should focus on and inform on practical issues or problems faced by the teacher or institution in their day-to-day practice. For example, the research topic/question should be phrased in such a way as to provide information on how the teacher or institution should respond to the adoption of a new teaching approach in their own context.

Do questions illuminate the topic area. BEME review questions may be most helpful where they illuminate the topic area. A valuable question will usually explore aspects of the review topic and will not necessarily be answered with a simple yes or no.

Is the topic precisely defined. The review topic/question should be precisely defined and the terms used in the question should be defined as a question: “What is a high-fidelity simulator?” Typically, a review topic/question will identify:

  • population/participants e.g. undergraduate or postgraduate students
  • the activity under investigation e.g. the timing of feedback in assessment
  • outcomes e.g. change of attitudes or knowledge

Conduct a scoping search. We recommend review groups conduct a scoping search as part of their work for the review protocol. These broad, simplified searches are conducted to determine the size of the body of literature relevant to the topic as initially defined. The scoping search is not comprehensive, nor does it consult all sources.

Refine or broaden. Following the scoping search, it may be advisable either to broaden or narrow the scope of the proposed review topic/question in order to ensure it is manageable whilst at the same time generating sufficient studies for the review. Several iterations may be necessary before the final topic/question is defined.

  • Register a Topic by  completing  the BEME registration form ( and submitting it to [email protected]
  • This form will be reviewed by the chair (or designee) of the BEME Review Committee (BRC).
  • A decision will be communicated to the authors within 2 weeks.
  • If a topic is accepted,  it will appear on the BEME website.
  • This will reserve this topic area for the team, preventing overlap with previous and future works.

Forming a review group

The review group will largely propose its own composition. BEME strongly recommends that the following are taken into account:

  • The review group, through its members, should have knowledge of the specific area being reviewed, knowledge of medical education, knowledge of research methods, and knowledge of the process of conducting reviews.
  • It is helpful if the review group has access to information technology skills, clerical/database handling skills, and a research librarian.
  • In general it is recommended, although not essential, that the review group has international composition.The recommended number of review group members will depend on the size of the review, the location of proposed group members, and the resources available; 6-12 members is an optimum number.

The recommended number of review group members will depend on the size of the review, the location of proposed group members, and the resources available; 6-12 members is an optimum number.

Registration of a topic/review question

Initial consultation with the BEME Consultant about the review topic/question may lead to the submission of a registration form. Following agreement, the work can proceed towards completion of a BEME protocol. The review question will then be registered exclusively to the Review Group for an initial period of one year.

Within four months, BEME expects to receive a draft protocol including a proposed timetable for completing the review. Guidance on writing the protocol and examples of other review protocols (select any Review in Progress to view the protocol) can be viewed online. If a Review Group does not submit a draft protocol within the first four months and is unable to demonstrate adequate progress with a registered review, the review topic may be released to another group.

If a prospective group expresses an interest in a topic already registered and on which a Review Group is actively working, the registered Review Group will be asked to discuss the topic with the proposed new group to see if collaboration is feasible. If collaboration is not appropriate the proposed group will be asked to consider resubmitting a review topic/question in a related or different area.