Select Committee on Science and Technology Third Report

5  Peer review

16. The role of peer review in evaluating scientific research proposals and in the allocation of funding is an important component of the MRC process. The Cooksey Review recognises the value of the peer review process in funding research, stating that "Day-to-day decision-making will continue to be left to experts through the peer review process".[19] However, it argues that while peer review is highly effective in identifying high quality basic research projects, it can in some instances "inhibit programmes in translational and applied health research."[20] We have some reservations about this, a view shared by some of the organisations who submitted evidence. The Council of Heads of Medical Schools, for example, argued that "It is critically important that the integrity of the MRC system of rigorous peer-review is not compromised under the proposed framework and that the NHS R&D system continues to embrace such existing best-practice."[21] We pressed Sir David on this and were pleased to hear him state that "peer review should apply to everything that is funded."[22] We welcome the recognition that peer review should remain the primary tool for assessing the scientific rigour of research proposals funded through both the MRC and the NIHR.

19   HM Treasury, A Review of UK Health Research Funding, December 2006, para 5.55; Back

20   As above, para 4.12 Back

21   Ev 18 Back

22   Q 7 Back

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Prepared 15 March 2007