Our peer review process

Our Scientific Advisory Group oversee our peer review process

Tommy’s conducts peer review for two purposes:

  1. To select new research centres
  2. To peer review our centres strategy, activity and outputs every year

Selecting a new Research Centre

In line with our strategy Tommy’s and by agreement from the Trustees that Tommy’s is in a financial position to sustain funding to a new research activity,  a brief and section criteria for a new centre are drawn up and circulated widely to interested institutions such as Universities and professional bodies, with an invitation to apply. Applicants can request advice to ensure that their ideas are a good fit for Tommy’s goals and meet our criteria. Each applicant completes an application and after the deadline for submissions all applications are circulated to the SAG for peer review and scoring against the criteria set out in the brief. 

The SAG members all come together at a meeting where each applicant has one hour to present their application and answer any questions from the SAG panel. SAG members then review their scoring and submit their completed scoring sheet to the selection administrator who collates the scores of all the members. After all the applicants have presented and all the score sheets are completed and collated, the Co-Chairs then lead a discussion about each application, review the scores and reach agreement on who the winning bid is and this forms a recommendation to the Trustees. 

The Trustees of the charity have the final approval about whether a centre is awarded to the winning bid. If there are two equal bids the Trustees will interview each applicant and decide on who to award the winning bid to with guidance and advice from the Co-Charis of the SAG.

Annual Research Centre reviews 

Each year, normally in January, each of Tommy’s centres undergoes a peer review Co-Chaired by two of Tommy’s Trustees. In the preceding October each centre submits a report made up of an activity report and impact report and a budget submission for the following financial year. These reports are forwarded to the SAG. Each member of the SAG leads a review of a particular centre which is allocated by the Tommy’s administrator. They are requested to read the reports, request any further information from the Tommy’s administrator such as previous reports and budgets, visit the research centre and/or speak to and interview the Centre Director and senior investigators. All the other members of the SAG are required to read all the reports and make comments, note questions. 

At the Review meeting each centre comes and presents their work updating the panel on any additional information since the reports were written in the preceding October and answer the questions from the SAG under the leadership of the lead reviewer of the centre. The Tommy’s administrator takes notes of any substantive points. Following the meeting the lead reviewer writes a report reflecting the whole panels comments and observations and includes recommendations for the centre for Tommy’s management and Trustees to consider.
The Trustees receive a copy of the peer review reports and agree any actions to be taken with the advice of the Co-Chairs.

The centre Directors meet several weeks after the review meeting led by the SAG Co-Chairs, and discuss any common themes or issues that have been highlighted or areas of collaboration and then agree actions. Each centre receives a copy of the report of their centre with the groups recommendations.  

The review reports are briefed to funders of specific centres and a synopsis communicated more widely to supporters of the charity via social media.

The CEO chairs a meeting with each research centre every month to review progress and agree actions.  

The Medical Research Conflicts of Interest Policy relates to all committees and funding panels of the charity, their chairs and other members, including trustees of the charity.

The Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) has five principles of peer review, which must be implemented by member charities across funding for all types of medical and psychosocial research.

Accountability: Charities must be open and transparent about their peer review procedures and publish details, including the names of members of scientific advisory panels or other decision-making bodies.

Balance: Scientific advisory panels must reflect a fair balance of experience and scientific disciplines.

Independent decision making: The scientific advisory panel must be independent of the charity's administrative staff and trustees.

Rotation of scientific advisers: Scientific advisory panel members must have a fixed term of office and not have tenure.

Impartiality: Scientific advisory panels must include a significant number of non-beneficiaries. There must be a conflict of interest policy and potential beneficiaries should not be present when decisions are made.