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Durham University

Research and Innovation Services

Peer Review

Durham University’s expectations for peer review throughout the research process, as endorsed by University Research Committee, are set out in these pages. Additional requirements may be set out in Faculty policies.

Peer review should be linked to all activities that are intended to improve the quality of research, at all stages of development, from initial ideas to final submission of publications. In some cases, especially when applied to the preparation of publications, this may be known as research mentoring or coaching, but for simplicity we refer to peer review throughout.

Peer review and the grant application process

All grant applications benefit from peer review. They should:

  • normally be reviewed by at least one REF-returnable member of Durham academic staff who is not part of the grant application team
  • only be submitted if there is written evidence of this process having taken place.

If the university is required to apply an internal selection process or is subject to demand management measures additional peer review procedures may apply.

Applications must never be submitted by without following the appropriate University process.


In the case of large, collaborative grants, especially those involving several national or international partners, and/or being produced to short deadlines, the applicant should discuss appropriate peer review arrangements in advance, with their DoR and if in doubt also their DHF or liaison group chair.

  • Such applications are often read by many investigators from different institutions, but nevertheless benefit from the perspective of a non-expert somewhat removed from the field of research. The minimum expectation is that Durham portions of such grants are peer reviewed by a REF-returnable member of Durham academic staff.
  • Any commitments of time or resource must also be agreed with HoDs or Faculty PVC.

Reasons for non-submission

In all cases, applications should not normally be submitted if the applicant has been advised to delay, or not to make, a submission by the Chair of the relevant Liaison group, their DoR, HoD or DHF. In such circumstances the HoD would not normally agree to sign off the application, nor would Research & Innovation Services agree to process it.

If the HoD is in any doubt about whether the usual peer review procedure has been properly applied, or whether an application should be submitted, s/he should seek advice from the relevant Deputy Head of Faculty, or Faculty PVC. The final decision as to whether a grant may be submitted rests with the Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research, and may be delegated to his/her deputy or the Director of Research & Innovation Services.