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

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

While it may be possible to obtain independent review by other means, the peer review service is strongly recommended as it will ensure that the review is sufficiently thorough and conducted to the appropriate level of independence.

Application to Research Ethics Committee and R&D 

Once the peer review process is completed, the Peer Review Certificate (for all levels except Level 1a) and the review itself, together with details of any subsequent correspondence and alterations, should be submitted with the applications to the REC and R&D Office. The REC and R&D Offices will not normally consider an application unless the appropriate peer review has been submitted.


The reviewers selected by the PRO will not necessarily have statistical expertise. For most clinical research projects the REC and R&D Office require robust statistical justification (e.g. for sample sizes, randomization or analysis). It is strongly advised that, if researchers do not possess expertise in this area, they seek appropriate advice, for instance from Imperial College Statistics Advisory Service.

NIHR Portfolio adoption application

Adoption to the Portfolio requires two independent reviews.  The PRO may be able to assist you in obtaining these. Please contact the office for further information.

Research on vulnerable groups

The appropriateness of research involving vulnerable participants (e.g. children or those unable to give consent) is generally the remit of the REC. However, the peer review may generate an opinion which will be helpful to the researcher, as well as to the REC and R&D Office.

General points

When peer reviewers are approached by the PRO, they will be provided with guidelines and will review the project using a standardized set of criteria. Nevertheless it is possible that the REC or R&D Office will require further information or clarification before being able to arrive at their decisions. For level 3 and 4 projects, any further questions to the reviewer should be made through the PRO.

Where a form asks for a reference number, this will be the reference number generated either by the Trust R&D Office or the JRCO.

If you are in doubt about the level or peer review required for a particular project, or if you have any other questions please contact the Peer Review Administrator on the details below:

Telephone: +44 020 7594 9457
Peer Review email