Purpose of peer review
The service exists to enable researchers to:
- obtain scientific peer review of their projects
- confirm that satisfactory review has taken place
- provide an advisory service about peer review for researchers
The Peer Review Office (PRO) does not undertake the reviews itself. It arranges reviews for those projects that need full independent scrutiny; and for all clinical research projects the office can issue a certificate to report that a peer review has been completed, if required.
While it may be possible to obtain independent review by other means, the peer review service is strongly recommended as it will ensure that the review is sufficiently thorough and conducted to the appropriate level of independence.
The activities of the PRO are overseen by the Imperial College Peer Review Committee. This group includes members from medical, nursing, therapies, pharmacy and administrative/governance backgrounds. It does not perform peer review itself but oversees the commissioning and other administrative processes.
Application to Research Ethics Committee (REC) and Research Governance and Integrity Team (RGIT)
Once the peer review process is completed, the Peer Review Certificate and the review itself, together with details of any subsequent correspondence and alterations, should be submitted with the applications to the REC and RGIT. The REC and RGIT will not normally consider an application unless the appropriate peer review has been submitted.
The reviewers selected by the PRO will not necessarily have statistical expertise. For most clinical research projects the REC and RGIT require robust statistical justification (e.g. for sample sizes, randomization or analysis). It is strongly advised that, if researchers do not possess expertise in this area, they seek appropriate advice, for instance from Statistical Advisory Service (SAS)
NIHR Portfolio adoption application
Adoption to the Portfolio requires two individual experts who are independent of the investigator's host institution and not involved in the study in any way should provide peer review of the research. The PRO may be able to assist you in obtaining these. Please contact the office for further information.
Research on vulnerable groups
The appropriateness of research involving vulnerable participants (e.g. children or those unable to give consent) is generally the remit of the REC. However, the peer review may generate an opinion which will be helpful to the researcher, as well as to the REC and RGIT.
When peer reviewers are approached by the PRO, they will be provided with guidelines and will review the project using a standardized set of criteria. Nevertheless it is possible that the REC or RGIT will require further information or clarification before being able to arrive at their decisions. For level 3 and 4 projects, any further questions to the reviewer should be made through the PRO.
Where a form asks for a reference number, this will be the reference number generated by the Peer Review Office.
If you are in doubt about the level or peer review required for a particular project, or if you have any other questions please contact the Peer Review Administrator on the details below:
Telephone: +44 020 7594 9457
Peer Review Office