AMRC has five principles of peer review, which must be implemented in member charities of all sizes, across funding for all types of medical and psychosocial research.

  • Accountability: Charities are open and transparent about their peer review procedures and publish details, including the names of members of scientific advisory panels or other decision-making bodies.
  • Balance: Scientific advisory panels reflect a fair balance of experience and scientific disciplines.
  • Independent decision making: The scientific advisory panel is independent of the charity's administrative staff and trustees.
  • Rotation of scientific advisers: Scientific advisory panel members have a fixed term of office and do not have tenure.
  • Impartiality: Scientific advisory panels include a significant number of non-beneficiaries. There is a conflict of interest policy and potential beneficiaries are not present when decisions are made.

Further information and in-depth guidance on implementing the mandatory requirements for each principle can be found here. This document also highlights additional best practice guidance that we encourage our members to adopt or work towards, in order to reduce bias and increase quality. We recognise the challenges in implementing these principles in ‘single-institute’ charities, and offer supplementary guidance.

Peer review audit

We assess charities’ peer review processes when they apply for membership and carry out a full audit of all members every five years.

2015 audit

In 2015, we undertook an audit of all members that joined before 1 January 2014. AMRC convened an audit committee to help AMRC oversee and assess our member’s peer review practices. The committee was authorised to:

  • Investigate any activity within its terms of reference.
  • Review members' peer review audit responses (subject to conflicts of interest).
  • Make peer review audit recommendations to AMRC for its consideration.
  • Contribute to the development and implementation of revision to the AMRC's principles of peer review.

Click below for an overview of the results.

Raising the standards of research funding: an audit of how AMRC members undertake peer review

For a look at more in depth findings, see our briefing:

2015 peer review audit: briefing

The audit also provides an opportunity to collect benchmarking data on the amount of work involved in peer review and allows us to reassess our principles to ensure they are keeping pace with best practice.

Due to the rigorous principles our members must adhere to, universities, government and funding bodies all use AMRC membership as a hallmark of quality.

Universities that receive grants from AMRC members that are awarded in open competition (where the funds are available to researchers across the country) can apply for the Charity Research Support Fund, which provides up to 20% extra funding to cover the infrastructure and indirect costs of charity research.

In the NHS, research awarded in open competition in England by AMRC charities is eligible for additional support via AcoRD.