Peer Review Participant Roles

TERA peer review and consultation meetings are designed to encourage exchange of ideas and information pertinent to the subject under review. However, to maintain independence and avoid any appearance of influence on the panel members, TERA usually does not announce the membership of the panel prior to the meeting. In addition, sponsors and authors agree not to communicate with panel members prior to the meeting. After the meeting begins, sponsors, authors, and observers are requested to refrain from discussing the document and related issues with panel members, unless a panel member initiates the conversation.


Panel Members


Panel members are peer reviewers or consultants depending upon the purpose and type of review. Panel members are expert scientists in appropriate scientific disciplines. A panel members agrees to represent his or her personal scientific opinion and to not represent his or her employer or other affiliation. TERA staff select 8-12 scientists for a meeting, striving for a balance of organizational affiliation and necessary specific expertise. For each meeting the selected panel members must complete and sign a conflict-of-interest/bias disclosure and certification.


The panel members review the assessment package, prepare pre-meeting comments, and come to the meeting prepared to discuss the assessment. Panel members are asked to be explicit in identifying issues and proposed strategies to resolve them.


For TERA’s independent peer review program, most of the panel members are selected from a list of volunteers. These scientists’ credentials have been pre-reviewed and approved by the TERA Board of Trustees. In addition, a particular issue or assessment may benefit by the participation of additional reviewers who are not on the regular roster of ITER Peer Reviewers, but have some specific knowledge or expertise that is needed. These reviewers also serve as volunteers and are full panel members. Occasionally, a selected peer reviewer is not able to attend the meeting but his or her expertise is considered critical. In that case, the individual provides a written review that is shared with the panel members, but they are not polled for consensus. For peer consultations and other review projects, TERA may use a different nomination and selection process to meet the needs of a particular situation.




The Chair is a panel member who structures and moderates the discussion to make the most efficient use of the panel’s time. The Chair identifies the ground rules and processes of the meeting, and then leads the panel through a series of discussion topics to evaluate the critical components of the document. The Chair also monitors the discussions for bias concerns. The Chair summarizes the conclusions and recommendations of the panel and polls the reviewers for consensus when appropriat.


Sponsor and Authors


The sponsor is generally the organization that has arranged with TERA to conduct the review. For each assessment or risk document, the sponsoring organization prepares a package to document and support the proposed position and the scientific rationale behind it. The review package includes a supporting document, which includes a description and evaluation of all relevant li tera ture, the rationale for the proposed position, and copies of key studies. The authors of the assessment document attend the meeting, briefly present information, and respond to panel comments and questions.


Invited Experts


On some occasions a sponsor may invite additional experts in a particular field to attend the meeting and be available to answer panel questions. If the sponsor makes these arrangements it will be disclosed at the meeting. The inclusion of invited experts can allow the panel members to resolve issues quickly and avoid having to ask the sponsor to consult with experts post-meeting and return for subsequent reviews.


Observers and Media


Peer review and consultation meetings are open to observers; however, space is limited and observers are asked to register in advance. Observers may be asked to pay a registration fee to cover the cost of providing review materials and refreshments. Observers may be given the opportunity to submit written and/or oral technical comments. Observers are expected to abide by TERA's policy on observers, including limits on communication with panel members. See TERA’s public participation policy and procedures for more information.




TERA’s role is to organize the peer review or consultation meeting. TERA identifies needed expertise, selects appropriate peer reviewers and consultants, and identifies and evaluates potential conflict of interest and bias issues. TERA reviews the sponsor's package in advance of the meeting to ensure it is complete and of sound quality to make effective use of the panel members’ time. TERA coordinates the preparation of ITER summaries for those assessments approved by a peer review panel.


Note Taker


TERA provides one or more scientists to take notes of discussions and conclusions and provide a draft meeting report to panel members for comment and concurrence. The approved meeting report is the official record of the review or consultation and is made available to the public on TERA's Peer Review & Consultation webpage.