Ten principles of peer research
We have 10 active principles of peer research, which can act as guidance when designing and delivering peer research projects.
These principles draw heavily on the 10 Principles of Citizen Science, compiled by the European Citizen Science Association, as well an Institute for Community Studies review of almost 50 peer research projects from across the UK, looking at shared principles and best practice.
Building these principles is a vital part of our ongoing work to:
- embed strong ethical and quality standards for those working in peer research in the UK
- legitimise peer research as a methodology that makes a distinctive contribution
- galvanise a community of organisations and practitioners conducting peer research
We regularly refine these principles according to feedback, and we are keen to speak to as many peer research practitioners as possible. If you have ideas to contribute to the principles please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Peer research projects actively involve members of the researched community in the process of generating new knowledge about, or understanding of, their communities.
Peer research has participation at its heart – allowing members of a community being researched to influence the way knowledge about them is produced and shared.
2. Peer research projects answer a genuine research question and seek to produce high-quality findings.
When the need for research is not defined from the outset, there is a risk that peer research can become a resource-intensive training programme for a small number of participants.
3. Both professional researchers and peer researchers benefit from taking part and gain new perspectives to help strengthen their research practice.
Peer researchers should take part in comprehensive training before involvement in research projects. They should be adequately compensated for time and expertise contributed to different aspects of the research process and benefit from skills development throughout their involvement.
Professional researchers should gain from involving peer researchers at various stages of research design and delivery and be open to having their perspectives challenged along the way.
4. Peer research projects strive to involve peer researchers in as many aspects of the research process as possible
Peer researchers can be involved in research and tool design, data collection, analysis and reporting back findings to their communities to ‘close the loop’ and ensure community research is not extractive.
5. Peer researchers are informed about the impact of their work and how the findings are being used.
Professional researchers should maintain communication with peer researchers beyond the reporting stage of projects and keep them informed of, and engaged with, plans for sharing findings and any actions that happen as a result of these plans.
6. Peer research is considered a research approach like any other, with limitations and biases that should be considered and controlled for.
As with any other kind of research, practitioners should quality assure to ensure that peer research is serious about producing high quality data.
Peer research is not suitable for all kinds of research questions and as with other methods, it should be recognised that peer research has limitations and it is damaging to claim that it is the right approach for every kind of project.
7. Findings produced via peer research are made publicly available where possible with the results published in an open and accessible formats for audiences including stakeholders and research participants.
Depending on the participants involved, it may not be appropriate to share findings completely openly. However, adapting reporting to suit different audiences is key, particularly for share outs with community members who took part in research.
8. Peer researchers are both adequately compensated and acknowledged in project results and publications and they are actively involved in ‘sharing out’ findings.
Where they are interested, peer researchers should have opportunities to develop and deploy presentation skills and be equipped to answer questions about research projects and findings.
9. Peer research programmes are evaluated for their research outputs, data quality, participant experience and wider societal or policy impact.
There is currently a lack of evidence about the impact of involving peer researchers in research projects. To build this evidence base, and the legitimacy of peer research as a methodology, practitioners should build evaluation into projects from the outset and be open to sharing learning as well as failure.
10. The leaders of peer research projects take into consideration legal and ethical issues surrounding copyright, intellectual property, data-sharing agreements, confidentiality, attribution and the impact of any activities on communities.
To counter the idea that peer research is a less legitimate research methodology than more traditional, established approaches, practitioners should carefully consider legal, ethical and data issues when designing and implementing peer research projects.