This area of the website outlines steps for conducting an In-progress Peer Review of projects or project portfolios. It does not cover program or subprogram level peer reviews..

Objective review and advice from peers—peer review—is one of the standard mechanisms for effective management of highly complex and/or technically challenging projects and programs. It is widely used in industry, government, and academia.

Peer review is a powerful and effective tool for enhancing the relevance, effectiveness, and productivity of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's (EERE) research, development, and demonstration (RD3) activities because it taps the experiences and insights of independent experts from outside of EERE. In EERE, project-level in-progress peer review is defined as follows.

The EERE Peer Review Guide defines in-progress peer review as:

"A rigorous, formal, and documented evaluation process using objective criteria and qualified and independent reviewers to make a judgment of the technical/ scientific/business merit, the actual or anticipated results, and the productivity and management effectiveness of an Office's portfolio of projects."

The primary purpose of the EERE Peer Reviewer Guide (Guide) is to provide managers and staff with guidance in establishing formal in-progress peer review that provides intellectually fair expert evaluation of EERE research, development, demonstration and deployment (RD3) and supporting business administration programs, both retrospective and prospective.

Below is the outline of the steps in the peer review process organized by plan, conduct, and results phases. The Guide describes in detail a process for planning and conducting a peer review for an individual project or a project portfolio.

Phase 1: Plan Evaluation

In this planning phase, the office has to decide on peer review roles and responsibilities. This includes picking a staff to  manage the peer review, including the peer review leader (PRL).

The PRL will have much to do, such as:

  • Begin planning many months in advance of the event date (e.g., three or more) to ensure the timely preparation that is essential for success.
  • Determine the purpose, scope (e.g., how many subject areas and projects), and frequency of review (how often to conduct reviews, annually, biennially).
  • Decide if review panels have to have an outside review chairperson, since peer reviews of project portfolios or technical areas are typically broken into separate expert review panels for each project portfolio/ technical area.
  • Define evaluation criteria and questions.
  • Select individual peer reviewers, using an objective process to ensure independence of the review, as described in the EERE Peer Review Guide. 
  • Collect information and data from the project principal investigators (PIs), to ensure reviewers get, in the requisite level of detail, the information they need to make informed expert judgments about projects.
  • Hire a support contractor to help manage the peer review logistics, manage the peer review response data, and produce the peer reviewer report.
  • Provide guidance to PIs to standardize, to the extent possible, the type of project information as well as level of detail to present at the peer review meeting.
  • Administer a post‐review feedback evaluation questionnaire to PIs and reviewers (and possibly to members of the public who attend the peer review event).

Phase 2: Conduct Evaluation

This implementation phase occurs at the peer review event itself. Here the PRL and team will may need to provide onsite instructions for peer reviewers, implement uniform procedures for facilitating the review, and collect information from the reviewers generally in real time.

Phase 3: Produce, Disseminate, and Use Results

This phase involves implementing several post‐review activities:

  • Analyzing and summarizing the collected reviewer data (numerical scores and written comments)
  • Preparing, publishing, and disseminating the peer review report 
  • Finalizing the office response and follow‐up actions to the peer review
  • Evaluating the peer review process (via an evaluation feedback questionnaire or other means of communication with PIs and reviewers to obtain feedback)