National Park Service


Date of this Version



U.S. Department of Interior, Archeological Assistance Program Technical Brief No. 21, March 2007.



The review of research by peers is a hallmark of scholarship. Peer reviews are the conscience of science and scholarship; they provide a necessary check on practitioners and an explicit evaluation of their efforts. Although most often thought of in relation to grant reviews and publication, peer review is also valuable in enhancing the quality of the full range of activities in archeological projects and programs.

The focus of the peer reviews described in this technical brief may vary. In some instances, agencies have requested the review of specific archeological projects. These investigations have ranged from survey projects to identify sites (see for example, the Scope of Work for the Fort Campbell peer review in Appendix B) to projects that involve data recovery or excavation activities as well as identification and evaluation investigations (see for example, the Scope of Work for the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway peer review in Appendix C). In other instances, agencies have requested peer review of a more general scope, looking at archeological programs that include several projects or other components. The 1995 peer review of the Bureau of Reclamation Phoenix Area Office cultural resource program is an example of this programmatic focus for a peer review (see Appendix A, the letter requesting this program peer review).

This Technical Brief provides guidance to governmental agencies and other programs on the peer review process. Such peer reviews may be full-scale versions, similar to ones completed by the Departmental Consulting Archeologist (DCA), or they may be smaller, to fit the needs of more localized projects. In either case, the results can lead to cost savings through efficiency, increased effectiveness, and increased support for archeology among members of the public and within agencies. The government agencies and the professionals who participate in these reviews recognize that peer reviews can provide an important contribution to project design and management.

This Technical Brief describes the peer review process within the Federal archeological arena. It also supplies information about the planning, design, and implementation of peer reviews.

Purpose and Goals

Peer Review Topics

Conducting Peer Reviews

1. Scope of Work

2. Cost and Funding

3. The Peer Review Team

4. Documentation

5. Scheduling

6. On-Site Visit

7. The Draft Report

8. The Final Report


DCA Peer Review Reports