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Peer Review of Reports

The Education Sciences Reform Act requires that "all research, statistics, and evaluation reports conducted by, or supported through, the Institute shall be subjected to rigorous peer review before being published or otherwise made available to the public." In addition, the Act requires that Institute products be "objective, secular, neutral, and nonideological and are free of partisan political influence and racial, cultural, gender, or regional bias."

Locating the Office of Science within the Office of the Director, independent of any of the Institute's four operating Centers, allows Institute staff responsible for approval and scientific peer review of reports to keep an independent, objective point of view. Office of Science action editors are senior staff members with several years of experience conducting research, publishing and doing scientific reviews.

The Office of Science receives statistics, research, and evaluation reports generated by the Institute's four centers. Office of Science staff conduct two types of reviews — external scientific reviews and internal scientific reviews. Reports that present new analyses of data are sent to external scientists for peer review, as are review and policy documents. Reports with limited descriptive data analyses are reviewed internally by Office of Science staff. A report can be exempt from review only if it does not include analyses of data, and is not considered a statistics, research, or evaluation report.

Office of Science action editors conduct their own review of each report (if external review, they do so simultaneously with the external reviewers), and then write a disposition memorandum synthesizing the action editor's review and those of the external reviewers (if external review). In their reviews, action editors focus on issues of technical quality, and are also responsible for making sure that the reports are neutral and objective, and do not contain discussions of policy implication or recommendations, or statements of advocacy for particular positions, programs, or policies. The disposition memorandum indicates whether or not the report has been approved for publication, or is in need of revision.


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