The three FDA-funded Alliances (Produce Safety Alliance, Sprout Safety Alliance, and Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance) have developed standardized food safety training curricula designed to meet the needs of most stakeholders who must comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety and Preventive Controls for Human Food rules.
Additional content that is developed by any stakeholder group to supplement the standardized curriculum is considered “add-on” content.
Content included in add-ons can be delivered before, during, or after a course as standalone materials. Examples of add-ons include supplemental training modules, handouts/documents, factsheets, videos, non-standardized workshops and short seminars, webinars, and other learning materials.
To ensure the quality and scientific and regulatory accuracy of add-on materials, the Western Regional Center to Enhance Food Safety, WRCEFS developed the add-on content peer review process. The WRCEFS team further collaborated with the Northeast Center to Advance Food Safety (NECAFS) to incorporate the review process into the Clearinghouse.
Note, the choice to submit add-on content for peer review is optional.
The process for posting content without peer review to the Clearinghouse remains the same. Similarly, when submitting content for peer review, complete the general posting information and then select "yes" when prompted for peer review to then provide the additional peer review submission information.
A pictoral overview of the process can be viewed here.
Getting to the Peer Review Process
The peer review submission process has been added to the bottom of the existing Clearinghouse posting page. Begin the process as you normally would to post your content to the Clearinghouse. At the bottom of the posting form, you will now see an option for submitting your content for peer review if it qualifies as an add-on. If you do not have a user account on the Clearinghouse, you must sign up for one before submitting content to the peer review process. You can sign up for an account here.
A submitter (i.e. the person who prepares and uploads all content for review into the Clearinghouse) will determine:
- If the content qualifies as an add-on. When a qualifying add-on "type" is selected during the posting process, the peer review process option will automatically appear.
- If they want the material peer reviewed. If "no" is selected, then the content will be immediately posted to the Clearinghouse without review. If "yes" is selected then the content will NOT be posted to the Clearinghouse and will move forward through the peer review process.
If the content can be reviewed at the time of submission.
For example, short courses will not be reviewed without the submitter having conversed with the editorial team first. These and other larger add-ons may need to be uploaded in a specific way to best accommodate the request for review.
If the answer to any of these three questions is "no", then the submitter should not fill out the Peer Review Request (PRR) section of the Submit your Resource form (see image below). The submitter should continue uploading their material through the normal submission process in the Clearinghouse.
If the three criteria are met, the submitter must fill out the Peer Review Request (PRR) section (see image to the right for accessing add-on review request questions). After completing the form, the submission moves into the quality check stage.
Once the PRR and accompanying documents are successfully submitted, staff from WRCEFS will be notified to start the quality check process. For the first part of this stage, WRCEFS editors will review the submitted materials for completeness.
If parts of the form are missing (e.g., forgot to attach add-on document or did not answer questions about the evaluation if an evaluation component is included for review) or add-on content is not in a format available for review (e.g., paper copy only, content is hidden behind password protected websites that are inaccessible to reviewers), comments will be sent back to the submitter to make any needed amendments.
If the form is complete, the materials will be sent to a regional facilitator who will solicit and assign reviewers (i.e. subject matter experts on the content provided in the add-on) for the submitted add-on materials.
After reviewers have been identified and confirmed, the peer review stage can begin. The reviewers will be asked to complete a Review form within three weeks of the invitation to review. Reviewers and editors (on an as needed basis) will decide the outcome of add-on material. The reviewers will remain anonymous throughout the process.
There are three possible outcomes for add-ons submitted for review: reject, revisions required, and approve.
- If the add-on is rejected or requires revisions, the decision and comments will be provided to submitters. The content can still be uploaded by the submitter into the Clearinghouse; however, no peer-review designation will be provided. Add-ons can also be revised and resubmitted for review. If planning to submit for a second review, use the same submission form to resubmit the revised add-on content and a response to reviewers document.
- Once approved, the add-on will be automatically uploaded onto the Clearinghouse with the peer-review designation and date of approval.
Q1) How do we know what materials can be submitted for review?
For the initial launch of the peer review system, we are accepting items that can be easily reviewed. This includes, but is not limited to, factsheets, handouts, videos, and calculators/tools. If something is more complex or would take longer to review, such as supplemental training modules or non-standardized workshops, we highly recommend that you reach out to the editor team at WRCEFS (firstname.lastname@example.org) so that we can determine how to best review your content.
Q2) Will you take drafts or documents in a mock-up form?
No. Anything submitted must be in a final, publishable form. This means any images, institution logos, or other final formatting additions must be in place prior to submission. If the add-on is accepted, it is automatically uploaded with the peer review designation onto the Clearinghouse. The editorial team will not have an easy way to manipulate these files once accepted.
Q3) Will I get any reviewer comments back if my add-on was accepted?
Yes. A set of summary documents will be provided to all submitters after review.
Q4) Can I resubmit my add-on if revisions are required or was rejected?
Yes. When ready to resubmit the add-on, please use the same submission form and include the revised add-on along with a response to reviewers document.
Q5) How long will it take for my add-on to be reviewed?
In the early stages of this process, it is anticipated to take longer for add-ons to be reviewed. This is due to onboarding new reviewers and facilitators in the Clearinghouse review system. For shorter add-ons (e.g., factsheets and short videos), we anticipate a review time of 1-2 months.
Q6) Is the review anonymous?
Yes. This means that the reviewers names will not be made public after the review is completed and reviewer names will not be disclosed to the resource submitter(s).