Skip to main content

You are here

Peer Review

The Research Governance Framework for Health and Social Care makes it clear that the sponsor is responsible for ensuring the quality of the science of a research study: 

‘It is essential that existing sources of evidence, especially systematic reviews, are considered carefully prior to undertaking research. Research which duplicates other work unnecessarily or which is not of sufficient quality to contribute something useful to existing knowledge is in itself unethical’

The quality of the science is judged through independent peer review (sometimes referred to as scientific review). Noclor will ensure that a research protocol has been subjected to peer review by independent experts in the field prior to final declaration of sponsorship (where sponsorship has been requested from a Noclor partner).

Noclor will also arrange for independent peer review of a protocol where a protocol has not been independently reviewed as part of the funding process and/or at the request of the Chief Investigator (for example: where the protocol is not be peer reviewed through competitive funding process or where only an outline proposal was reviewed as part of the funding process). Please follow the instructions below on how to submit a request.  

The purpose of peer review

Independent peer review should provide an overall judgement on the protocol:

  • The value or harm (to ALL parties) if the research is blocked
  • The value or harm (to ALL parties) if the research goes ahead

It can do this by those doing the reviewing providing the following:

  • Detailed knowledge of the subject area (disease etc.), accommodating the controversies, difficulties and uncertainties and taking account of the research that has already been undertaken
    • Is there evidence of one or more review(s) of prior research? 
    • Has the question been answered already?
    • Is there a need for this research?
    • Will it add to current knowledge and treatment?
    • Will patients or communities benefit?
    • Will the proposal answer the question it sets itself, and is this a relevant question?
  • An assessment of the feasibility of the project (given the proposed personnel and resources) by someone in the field
    • Is it likely that this research team will be able to successfully conduct and conclude the project?
    • Is there similar or complementary research underway elsewhere?​
  • An understanding of what is normal care and how research will impact on this (if at all)
    • Is research in this area needed?
    • What is the context of this work and how will it affect care?​
  • An assessment of the risks from someone with knowledge of the field
    • Does it withhold proven therapy, or is it researching treatment that prior research has demonstrated is inferior?
    • Does it expose participants to risk?

The outline framework for peer review above was extracted without modification from the HRA Peer / Scientific review of research and the role of NRES Research Ethics Committees (RECs) publication April 2012. It is important to note that the role of the Research Ethics Committee (REC) is not to reconsider the quality of the science of a protocol, however they will need to be satisfied with credible assurances that the research has an identified sponsor and that it takes account of appropriate scientific peer review (GAfREC 2011).

Peer review requirements

Noclor will ensure that the quality of science in a research protocol has been subjected to peer review by independent experts in the field prior to final declaration of sponsorship (by the Noclor partner) and authorising subsequent REC submissions (and other submissions where relevant).

Arrangements for peer review should be commensurate with the research to be sponsored as the table summarises below:

STUDY TYPE PEER REVIEW REQUIREMENTS

Investigator Initiated Research (IIR) (part-commercially funded)

Review by two independent experts

One (as minimum) should be arranged by Noclor. The Chair of the relevant peer review panel will make an assessment as to the level of independence1 of the peer reviewer(s).

Any peer review conducted by the commercial organisation in providing funding without taking on the sponsorship responsibilities is not considered independent.

Funded studies (being reviewed by major grant-giving bodies)

As research is reviewed as part for the funding process no additional peer review is required2.

Evidence of peer review will be required prior to final sponsorship declaration

Unfunded Research (own account)

Review by two independent experts - both to be arranged by Noclor.

The Chair of the relevant peer review panel will make an assessment as to the level of independence1 of the peer reviewers.

 

[1] Whether the reviewer should be an individual outside of the Trust (proposed sponsor organisation)

[2] Sponsor may request additional review where only outline proposal has been peer reviewed as part of competitive funding process and not a protocol. For programme grants it may be necessary for each protocol within the programme of work to be independently peer reviewed this will be at the sponsor’s discretion.

 

1 Whether the reviewer should be an individual outside of the Trust (proposed sponsor organisation)
2 Sponsor may request additional review where only outline proposal has been peer reviewed as part of competitive funding process and not a protocol.  For programme grants it may be necessary for each protocol within the programme of work to be independently peer reviewed this will be at the sponsor’s discretion.

Note- the role of the Research Ethics Committee (REC) is not to reconsider the quality of the science of a protocol, however they will need to be satisfied with credible assurances that the research has an identified sponsor and that it takes account of appropriate scientific peer review (GAfREC 2011).

Arranging peer review through Noclor

If the Chief Investigator would like Noclor to arrange for independent peer review of their research protocol, a request should be made online by submitting a peer review request form to Noclor. The Chief Investigator will need to register with Noclor to set-up an account first.

Submit peer review request

The online form comprises of a short series of questions about the proposed research, a copy of the protocol for review will also need to be uploaded (pdf). 

On-line guidance is available where you see a i symbol.  If you need further assistance in completing the online form please contact Noclor.

Once a user account has been set-up the Chief Investigator will be able to create new requests, review and edit pending requests and submit completed requests when they login.

Noclor aims to notify Chief Investigators in writing (via email) the outcome of peer review within 21 days of receiving a valid request.