Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Analyst Skills: Peer Review

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines peer review as: "A process by which something proposed (as for research or publication) is evaluated by a group of experts in the appropriate field." In a law enforcement fusion center or intelligence unit peer review is a critical component in report or product creation. Peer review can be very useful as it suggests different perspectives and provides valuable feedback on what is compelling and what is problematic in a document.

Intelligence in law enforcement basically covers two areas, intelligence analysis and crime analysis. Both of these fields create products for the decision maker that can be enhanced and edited by ones own work colleagues. This is because co-workers generally have sufficient knowledge of the subject matter and are in a unique position to enhance the product through their input.

Peer review however, is not without its problems. Some find it very difficult to critique other people's work, or put their own efforts up for peer evaluation. This is understandable, considering that so much effort goes into intelligence products. Personality clashes can interfere with clear analysis of peer performance, as can fear of other people 'stealing' ideas or just not wanting other analysts to see your work.

However, peer review is a vital cog in the intelligence office machine. It adds extra pairs of eyes looking at the problem being examined. It can identify gaps in reasoning and provide solutions to those gaps. Peer review can show an author where grammar, punctuation or spelling can be improved. It is for the purpose of product improvement that peer review exists. Thus a much more accomplished final result is available to the supervisor or manager at the outset, saving time and showing the skills of the analyst in a better light. in the long run, both the writer and the reviewer become better skilled and more proficient at their craft. Losing a little bit of fear is not a bad thing either, so give peer review a try!



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Who am I?

I am a law enforcement professional with over 35 years experience in both sworn and civilian positions. I have service in 3 different countries in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

My principal areas of expertise are: (1) Intelligence, (2) Training and Development, (3) Knowledge Management, and (4) Administration/Supervision.

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