Our peer-review process begins with our peer-review contractor, the PCORI Editorial Office, inviting the principal investigator to submit an abstract and other information to our electronic peer-review system, which many medical journals use similar tracking systems for peer review. This allows for the contractor to begin identifying and inviting reviewers for the report up to three months before the principal investigator submits the report.
On or around the due date, the principal investigator submits a draft final research report that includes background about the project and the project’s aims, methods, results, discussion of all study aims, and conclusions. The principal investigator submits the draft final research report to our electronic peer-review system. At PCORI, an experienced member of our peer-review staff reviews the draft final research report to make sure that the writing is clear and follows the prescribed structure outlined in report instructions for awardees. PCORI science staff also make sure that the final report includes all of the funded study activities. After this pre-review, the principal investigator will have two weeks to make any changes before the report can move forward to external peer review.
Once the report is deemed ready for peer review, the already invited peer reviewers receive access to the report in the peer-review system. The associate editor reads through the completed reviewer comments, assembles their key concerns and suggestions into a letter to the principal investigator that also includes those unedited reviewer comments. The principal investigator then has 45 working days, about nine weeks, to respond to the points raised and to make changes in the draft report.
The associate editor then determines whether the revised report has addressed reviewers’ comments adequately or if the principal investigator needs to make more revisions. If the revision fails to address major concerns, a second round of peer review may be necessary. Once the report has completed all requirements of peer review, the PCORI Program Director for Peer Review and Scientific Publications determines whether it is ready to be accepted as final. The director may require another round of revisions.
Once PCORI accepts the final research report, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Translation Center completes two summaries of the project—a lay summary for the public and a professional abstracted aimed at health professionals—in accordance with our authorizing law. PCORI will also post the peer-review summary (short summary of the main points brought up during peer review and how they were handled) and later the final research report on the project’s web page on the PCORI website.
Posted: March 8, 2019; Updated: June 14, 2019