Peer review of PCORI-funded research helps make sure the report presents complete, balanced, and useful information about the research. It also assesses how the project addressed PCORI’s Methodology Standards. During peer review, experts read a draft report of the research and provide comments about the report. These experts may include a scientist focused on the research topic, a specialist in research methods, a patient or caregiver, and a healthcare professional. These reviewers cannot have conflicts of interest with the study.
The peer reviewers point out where the draft report may need revision. For example, they may suggest ways to improve descriptions of the conduct of the study or to clarify the connection between results and conclusions. Sometimes, awardees revise their draft reports twice or more to address all of the reviewers’ comments.
Peer reviewers commented and the researchers made changes or provided responses. Those comments and responses included the following:
- The reviewers questioned how representative the study sites were of the geographic areas they represented. The researchers responded that in this qualitative study, they could only study a limited number of geographic regions and involve a limited number of organizational partners. Therefore, they focused on studying divergent examples of primary care stakeholder voices and experiences rather than a representative sample. The researchers said their work is an exploratory study of an understudied topic, so they did not expect their findings to be generalizable to every population. To further justify their choices of organizations to study, the researchers added information about each organization to illustrate its unique qualities and how those qualities supported study implementation.
- The reviewers noted that the researchers implemented a highly complex and time-consuming process for helping community organizations to prioritize their goals for engaging in research. The reviewers pointed out that the process was so time consuming that the researchers were not able to present much information on the actual priorities identified in the sampled organizations. The researchers agreed that the process was complex but reminded the reviewers that the goal of this project was to develop methods for priority setting rather than to identify those priorities. To this end, the researchers felt that the study was quite successful as it concluded with a rubric for how to conduct priority-setting exercises that were less complex than those used in this study.
- The reviewers wondered how small sample sizes in some regions affected study findings. The researchers agreed that there were imbalances in data collection across study sites but said they took care to examine patterns of how participants were assigned in different groups and concluded that these differences had only a modest effect on overall results.
Conflict of Interest Disclosures
Study Registration Information
^James Mold, MPH, MD was the original principal investigator for this project.
**This project was previously titled: Patient and Community Stakeholder Engagement in Identifying and Prioritizing an Agenda for Research in the Primary Care Setting
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