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Museum Assessment Program (MAP) Peer Reviewer Responsibilities

As a MAP peer reviewer, your role is to be a supportive colleague while assessing the museum’s operations and making constructive and achievable recommendations for change. In the context of your dialogue with the museum, you will provide information about how its operations measure up to standards and best practices in the field, as well as ideas about how it might address its current challenges and which resources might aid that effort.

As a peer reviewer, you will:

  • review the museum’s documentation
  • schedule the site visit
  • notify MAP staff of the visit date
  • develop a visit agenda in cooperation with the museum
  • visit the museum
  • review plans to implement recommendations with the museum staff
  • write an Assessment Report that reviews overall operations, addresses issues of major concern, offers constructive suggestions for change, addresses the museum’s strengths and weaknesses, assesses how well the museum is meeting standards and best practices, and offers prioritized recommendations
  • submit the report to MAP staff on time
  • follow up with the museum after the report has been submitted

Working on a Peer Review Team

Sometimes, due to the complexity and size, museums may require two MAP peer reviewers. A Peer Reviewer Team must think and act collabora­tively during all aspects of the assessment. Each team member is responsible for ensuring that the site visit occurs smoothly by reviewing the museum’s self-study and documentation beforehand; participating fully while on site; drafting the assessment report, and maintaining the highest professional conduct. Reviewers must conduct site visits on the same dates and work together to craft one report for the museum.

Considering Requests

Please respond to all requests from the museum and MAP staff within 5 business days. It does not have to be an absolute confirmation, but in the response, please note interest, acceptance or denial.

Conflicts of Interest

Some questions to consider:

  • Have you worked at the institution within the past 10 years?
  • Have you served as a peer reviewer for this institution—MAP, accreditation or another non-anonymous reviewer—within the past 10 years?
  • Have you engaged in a business relationship with the institution or any of its senior staff—including consulting or long-term collaborative agreements — within the last three years?

If any potential conflict of interest exists, please contact MAP staff to discuss any concerns.

Time Commitment

A review generally takes 40-60 hours of time, spread out over several months. The process includes reading the materials, developing an agenda, keeping in mind initial questions and points of discussion, conducting the site visit, writing the report and following up with the museum. You should be sure you can provide the time and attention to be fair to the participating museum, meet the program’s expectations and benefit from the process yourself.

It is better to decline to participate than agree to conduct a visit you do not have time to complete. Your time commitment for this assessment will depend on your work style and the complexity and size of the participating museum.

Maintaining Confidentiality

MAP is most successful when museum staff is open and honest. To preserve the integrity of the program, the museum’s disclosure of private information must also be handled discreetly by the peer reviewer. Treat all activities and information acquired through the process as privileged. Do not talk or write about the proceed­ings, your conclusions or any other information about the museum to anyone but peer review team members and MAP staff, as appropriate.

After the review is complete, your report is received and accepted, and your commitment is ended, destroy or return any notes and copies of the self-study and appli­cation in your possession. Your responsibility of confidentiality continues after review.

You may not identify the specific museums you have visited, but you can and should include your participa­tion as a MAP peer reviewer on your resume. Refer only to the time period of visits.

Fulfilling Your Responsibilities

MAP staff understands that unforeseen events may pre­vent you from fulfilling a commitment. If such an event arises, contact MAP staff immediately so we can inform the museum and find a replacement. A significant delay may endanger MAP’s funding with IMLS.

MAP staff may remove your name from the peer reviewer roster if you agree to conduct a visit or write a report and then do not fulfill your commitment in a timely fashion.

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