All publications of the Council are reviewed by external experts (‘peer reviewed’) before they are published. The working group, made up of members from a number of different fields (for example, science, medicine, law and philosophy), identifies between six and ten individuals who have a range of expertise relevant to the topic under consideration. The Council then invites the reviewers to comment on an early draft of the report. The responses of the reviewers are discussed by the working group and the draft is re-worked in the light of the comments received.
Reproduced below is the standard set of questions that peer reviewers are asked to consider when evaluating the report. These questions will usually be modified for particular reports, or new questions may be added.
- Are the arguments presented coherent and defensible?
- Are there other relevant papers of which the working group should be aware?
- Is the evidence presented in a fair and balanced manner? Are uncertainties or incompleteness in the evidence explicitly recognised?
- Are the conclusions and recommendations valid and useful? Is the rationale clearly explained? Are they achievable?
- Are all the principal areas of concern addressed or are there significant omissions?
- Are there areas of duplication that should be eliminated?
- Are the various chapters of the report sufficiently similar in style to produce a homogeneous whole?
- Is the report written in a style that makes it accessible to a wide range of users?