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Responsible Conduct of Research

Peer Review

Federal Resources

Peer review—evaluation by colleagues with similar knowledge and experience - is an essential component of research and the self-regulation of professions. The average person does not have the knowledge and experience needed to assess the quality and importance of research. Peers do. Therefore many important decisions about research depend on advice from peers, including:

  • which projects to fund (grant reviews)

  • which research findings to publish (manuscript reviews)

  • which scholars to hire and promote (personnel reviews)

  • which research is reliable (literature reviews and expert testimony)

The quality of the decisions made in each case depends heavily on the quality of peer review.

Peer review can make or break professional careers and directly influence public policy. The fate of entire research programs, health initiatives, or environmental and safety regulations can rest on peer assessment of proposed or completed research projects. For peer review to work, it must be:

  • timely

  • thorough

  • constructive

  • free from personal bias

  • respectful of the need for confidentiality

Researchers who serve as peer reviewers should be mindful of the public as well.

Last modified July 05 2011 02:56 PM

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