Peer review is an important aspect of ethical review. It is used to assure the Health and Disability Ethics Committees (HDEC) of the scientific validity of a research proposal.
See section 40.4.30 of the Standard Operating Procedures for Health and Disability Ethics Committees: HDEC SOPs
The HDEC National Ethics Advisory Committee’s guidelines state that scientific validity includes:
The HDEC scientific peer review template provides more detail on what to include as evidence of the peer review process:
Note: Even if an application is accepted, the HDEC may request further scientific peer review.
A literature review is not sufficient evidence of the peer review process. You need to include in your application, evidence that the specific study’s protocol has been reviewed for scientific validity.
Funding approval letters may be accepted as evidence of adequate peer review, depending on the scientific review process for the specific funding board.
For example, Health Research Council (HRC) funding letters are accepted as evidence of the peer review process as HDEC recognise the high quality of the HRC scientific review process.
You need to:
The peer reviewer should be suitably independent – ideally, not directly affiliated with the research team. However, for some low-risk studies in specialised areas, it may be acceptable to have less independent review.
Completing the HDEC peer review template does not guarantee acceptance of scientific peer review.
You need to:
Studies being submitted for Standing Committee on Therapeutic Trials (SCOTT) review approval do not need to include evidence of scientific review in their HDEC application.
SCOTT approval may be sought before, during, or after the HDEC application process.
You need to indicate in the application that the study will have SCOTT approval before the study begins.
For help in determining appropriate evidence of peer review, contact the HDEC Secretariat: