Peer review is where a number of 'experts' examine the proposed trial to consider aspects such as design quality, feasibility, acceptability and importance of the topic. If an application for external funding has been submitted, then peer review will be undertaken as part of this process.

If external funding is not required, and therefore peer review has not been conducted as part of the funding process, the sponsoring organisation will be able to assist with this matter. 

Once you have developed your protocol/proposal for your healthcare study, it should be reviewed by experts in the relevant field(s) who are completely independent of the research team, to offer advice on its quality and suitability. Peer review should occur before you seek ethics approval for your project from a Research Ethics Committee (REC).

The Peer Review Office aims to complete the process within 4 weeks of receipt of the appropriate documents but, as this cannot be guaranteed, submission to the Peer Review Office should be made as early as is practicable. 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.

It does not undertake reviews itself. It arranges reviews for those projects that need fully independent scrutiny; and for all clinical research projects it issues certificates of completed peer review, if required.

Not all funders will carry out an adequate level of peer review to meet NIHR requirements that stipulate two independent reviewers are required to comment the project so you will need to check this before submitting for ethics approval.


TypeWhere to find
Key contacts JRCO
Useful links NHS NoCLoR - peer review
NIHR Clinical Trials Toolkit - peer review
JRCO - peer review
NIHR benchmark Prior to NIHR 70-day benchmark
Process map links This activity occurs in the work-up stage:
Imperial College London as sponsor
Imperial College Hospital NHS Trust as sponsor
Commercial organisation as sponsor
Non-commercial organisation as sponsor