Peer review procedure

The aim of the peer review procedure is to assess the scholarly quality of new circle proposals and their relevance to the activities of the NSU. The peer reviews play an important role in the Board’s assessment of the applications and their recommendation to the General Assembly for the new study program every year.

Each proposal for a new study circle must be blind peer reviewed (i.e. the reviewers remain anonymous) by at least one or preferably two readers as part of the application and evaluation process.

A peer is defined as an individual holding a doctorate in any academic discipline, or an individual who is a senior expert in a field where PhDs are not necessarily the main signifier of achievement. The Board will aim to procure one review from a qualifying NSU participant, and one from an expert in the field who might work outside of NSU. The peer would preferably have some knowledge of the contexts and workings of NSU, but this criterion is secondary to expertise in the relevant field. 

It is the collective responsibility of the Board to identify the appropriate peer reviewers (including external experts) once the applications have been received. To begin with, the results from the participant survey from the summer session can be consulted, where participants have the possibility to announce if they are willing to serve as peer reviewers. The coordinators of each study circle may also contribute with possible peer reviewers from their own circle or network. The Board should endeavour to maintain a list of former participants and NSU associates who might perform peer reviews – and also keep track of people who decline the inquiry, to avoid asking the same person several times.

Depending on workload and ability, one board member is chosen every year to coordinate the peer review procedure. The tasks of the coordinator of the peer review process are:

  • To contact prospective peer reviewers and ask if they are willing to write a report.
  • To supply the readers who accepts the inquiry with the documents they need for the task and set the deadlines. The readers should be presented with a list of questions that can help them structuring their report. List can be found here.
  • To chase up the outstanding reports.
  • To ensure that the reports are anonymised for submission to the Board and subsequently to the applicants when they are to revise their proposal. 
  • To write and present the recommendation to the General Assembly. 

The Board’s recommendation for the new study program each year should consists of: 1) a brief description of the peer review procedure, 2) a short presentation of the criteria that was used for assessing the proposals (Nordic and Baltic plurality, scholarly quality, theme and content, external relations, and forms and activities), and 3) a report on the internal discussions within the Board which motivated the ranking of the proposals. Ultimately, the recommendation should consist of a list where all the nine circles of the proposal for the new study program are presented.  

Timeframe as set out in year of the Board:

Application deadline: 1 December

(Internal deadline for identifying and contacting peer reviewers: 31 December)

Peer review deadline: 1 February

(Board prepares recommendations to applicants at SM1)

Feedback to applicants: 1 March

Deadline for revised applications: 1 May

(Board prepares recommendation to GA at SM2)

Call for new study circle proposal goes out in the newsletter on 15 September

(Board revisits and makes any necessary revisions to Call for New Proposals at SM3)

Changes to the peer review process should be made during SM4, for implementation in the following year.