We have five principles of peer review, which must be implemented by our member charities across funding for all types of medical and psychosocial research.

  • Accountability: Charities must be 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 must reflect a fair balance of experience and scientific disciplines.
  • Independent decision making: The scientific advisory panel must be independent of the charity's administrative staff and trustees.
  • Rotation of scientific advisers: Scientific advisory panel members must have a fixed term of office and not have tenure.
  • Impartiality: Scientific advisory panels must include a significant number of non-beneficiaries. There must be a conflict of interest policy and potential beneficiaries should not be present when decisions are made.

You can read about how to implement our principles of peer review in this guidance.

We've also developed a thought-piece for charities to reflect on the future of peer review and consider changes that could be made.

Peer review audit

We assess charities’ peer review processes when they apply for membership and carry out a full audit of all our members every five years. The audit collects benchmarking data on the work involved in peer review enabling us to reassess our principles and ensure our members are keeping pace with best practice.

Passing our audit is considered a hallmark of quality by universities, government and funding bodies.

In 2015 we undertook an audit of all members that joined before 1 January 2014. We convened an audit committee to help oversee and assess our members’ peer review practices. The committee…

  • Investigated any activity within their terms of reference.
  • Reviewed members' peer review audit responses (subject to conflicts of interest).
  • Made peer review audit recommendations to us for consideration.
  • Contributed to the development and implementation of revision to our principles of peer review.

You can read about how our members undertake peer review in this report or check out the overview of the 2015 peer review audit results in this briefing.