The process of obtaining review or certification differs depending on the level of review the project has been judged to require. You should be able to determine review level by consulting the Peer Review Levels Grid  the PRO can also assist with this.

NIHR portfolio adoption

If you intend to apply for adoption to the NIHR Portfolio you will require peer review which fulfils the NIHR criteria. The criteria states that two individual experts who are independent to the investigator's host institution and not involved in the study in any way, should provide reviews.

If you know at the point of applying for peer review that you may pursue NIHR Portfolio adoption you should indicate this in your application.  

The application process is the same as for level 4 except that all suggested reviewers should be external to the College.

Peer review certificates

For a project agreed to be at level 1a the PRO are able to issue a certificate confirming that no peer review is required.

For a project agreed to be at level 1b the PRO are able to issue a certificate confirming that the existing review is satisfactory.

For a project agreed to be at level 2 the PRO are able to issue a certificate confirming that the review submitted to the supervisor or dept colleague is satisfactory.

For a project agreed to be at level 3 or 4 the PRO are able to issue a certificate confirming that the review obtained through the office is satisfactory.

The issuing of a certificate confirms that a review was carried out at an appropriate level of independence and that (for levels 3 and 4) the questions asked of the reviewer were addressed. A certificate does not relate to the scientific or methodological merit of the study, this is the subject of the review itself.

aw - application process

Obtaining certificates for projects not requiring review Level 1

A project at level 1 does not require peer review, and no application to the Peer Review Office is required. However, the Research Ethics Committee (REC) or the Trust R&D Department may need confirmation of this. The PRO is happy to consider such a project, and if appropriate issue a certificate confirming that it does not need a review.

There are two types of project at Level 1:

Level 1a: projects with minimal risk
The study protocol and supporting documents should be submitted to the PRO. If required and if appropriate the office will then issue a certificate confirming that peer review is not needed.

Level 1b: projects for which there already exists an independent review
These are projects that have already undergone a full peer review. The commonest examples are those that have been reviewed by a major grant giving body or similar organization. These include the following: UK Research Councils (including the Medical Research Council), the National Institute for Health Research and Members of the Association of Medical Research Charities (including the Wellcome Trust and a large number of specialist or disease-specific charities - for a list of members see www.amrc.org.uk). Please note that the review must refer specifically to the particular project.

Projects of this type will not usually need to go through the PRO as evidence of peer review is available to be submitted directly to the REC. If requested by the researcher or required by the REC or the R&D Office the PRO are able to issue a certificate confirming that the review is sufficient. In this case, the study protocol should be submitted to the PRO, together with any other supporting documents needed to demonstrate that the review was full, and relevant to the project. These would normally include the review itself and any subsequent alterations/correspondence. If the review itself is unavailable, sufficient evidence must be submitted to demonstrate that it considered the proposed project (for instance, copies of the grant application and the letter of award).

Obtaining review and certificates for projects requiring review at Level 2

If your project requires review at level 2 you should solicit the review. The reviewer could be a departmental colleague, or someone more external. For student projects, the reviewer will normally be the project supervisor (who should confirm that he/she has read and approved the project). You should approach the reviewer yourself. You do not have to involve the PRO in this process although the Office will be happy to request the review for you if you wish. In this case the procedure will be as for level 3 projects.

If you require a Certificate of Review once the review has been obtained you should submit it together with the study protocol and supporting documents to the PRO. The office will issue a certificate to confirm that a satisfactory review has taken place at the appropriate level.

Normally each project should be reviewed separately although a single reviewer may assess more than one project together provided that they are linked.

Obtaining review and certificates for projects requiring review at Level 3

If your project requires review at level 3 you should request the review through the PRO. Requesting review through the office will give an independence to the review which the REC and R&D Office are likely to take into account.

In your application to the PRO you will need to:

  1. submit a the project protocol and the supporting documents which are pertinent to the scientific evaluation of the project, e.g. questionnaire sheets etc.
  2. provide the names and e-mail addresses of at least four potential reviewers. These should be independent individuals and at least two should be external to Imperial and its related hospitals.  For each suggested review you will need to complete .

All documents should be submitted electronically. Normally each project will be reviewed separately, although a single reviewer may assess more than one project together, provided that they are linked.

The PRO will normally select one reviewer: this may be an independent individual within IC and its related hospitals, or may be external. The reviewer may be one of the three suggested or may be a different individual, chosen by the PRO for their expertise in the field.

The PRO will request the review. In addition to the protocol and supporting documents, the office will send the reviewer Conflict of Interests form to confirm his/her expertise and independence. The reviewer will send the revi ew to the PRO, who will then pass it on to you. The PRO will preserve the anonymity of the reviewer unless he/she requests disclosure of his/her name.

If a secondary review is needed following changes based upon the reviewer's initial comments this should be processed through the PRO in the same way.

Obtaining review and certificates for projects requiring review at Level 4

If your project requires review at level 4 you will need to request the review through the PRO. Requesting review through the office will give an in dependence to the review which the REC and R&D Office are likely to take into account.

In your application to the PRO you will need to:

  1. submit the project protocol and the supporting documents which are pertinent to the scientific evaluation of the project, e.g. questionnaire sheets etc.
  2. provide the names and e-mail addresses of at least four potential reviewers. These should be independent individuals and at least two should be external to Imperial and its related hospitals. For each suggested review you will need to complete Reviewer Suggestion From.

All documents should be submitted electronically. Normally each project will be reviewed separately although a single reviewer may assess more than one project together provided that they are linked.

The PRO will normally select two reviewers. The reviewers may be from those suggested or may be different individuals from outside or within the organization. At least one reviewer will be external to IC and its related hospitals.

If your project has not yet secured funding, you can apply for the reviews to be carried out only internally to the college and trust with a pre-funding exemption.

The PRO will request the reviews. In addition to the protocol and supporting documents the office will send each reviewer a Conflict of Interest Form to confirm their expertise and independence.

The reviewers will send their reviews to the PRO who will then pass them on to you. The PRO will preserve the anonymity of the reviewer unless he/she requests disclosure of his/her name.

If secondary reviews are needed following changes based upon the reviewers' initial comments these should be processed through the PRO in the same way.

To apply for peer review please complete a Reviewer Suggestion Form (for each review) and send to the Peer Review Administrator.