Analytic Quality Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2004-21, Analytic Quality Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 18 June, 2021 , © Lee Harvey 2004–2021.


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core definition

Peer, in the context of quality in higher education, is a person who understands the context in which a quality review is being undertaken and is able to contribute to the process

explanatory context

Peers tend to be people external to the institution, or programme being reviewed. In the case of peer review of an individual’s performance, the person may be a colleague, a manager or an external expert.


In general, peer, just means a person who is of equal standing with another in a group.


There are few definitions of peer in the literature, most focus on defining peer review, the nature of the peer being often implicit or subsumed in phrases such as ‘respected peer’, ‘external expert’, ‘trusted colleague’, ‘critical friend’.

analytical review

One definition is:

Peer: Also: external expert, inspector. Member of a selected team evaluating a unit but who is not connected to it. Programme officer: Upper-level employee of an evaluation or accreditation agency coordinating, assisting, and carrying out the administration of evaluation or accreditation procedures. (Campbell & Rozsnyai, 2002, p. 133)

Platt (1981, p. 76) provides a more generic definition of a peer:

One’s peers have a variety of relevant characteristics: they are in a diffuse sense one’s social equals, they are one’s equals in role-specific senses, they share the same background knowledge and subcultural understandings, and they are members of the same groups or communities. Some of these characteristics may, of course, occur without others, and the consequences vary accordingly.

associated issues


related areas

See also

external expert

peer review


Campbell, C. & Rozsnyai, C., 2002, Quality Assurance and the Development of Course Programmes. Papers on Higher Education Regional University Network on Governance and Management of Higher Education in South East Europe Bucharest, UNESCO.

Platt, J., 1981, ‘On interviewing one’s peers’, British Journal of Sociology 32(1), pp. 75–91.

copyright Lee Harvey 2004–2021

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