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Peer review reading group

Supporting interdisciplinary research at LSE

The group enables members to circulate and discuss draft research papers amongst colleagues so that they can provide comments prior to submission for publication

The Global Health Initiative Peer Review Reading Group has been set up to support academics at LSE working on global health related research across a range of disciplines and departments. The group enables members to circulate and discuss draft research papers amongst colleagues so that they can provide comments prior to submission for publication.

The group meets regularly to discuss papers – on average 2-3 times a term. Sessions typically take place during the week for one hour, unless otherwise specified. Open to all LSE staff and PhD students, the group runs on an opt-in basis. 

Below are some examples of papers that have been reviewed by the Peer Review Reading Group and successfully published in leading global health journals: 

Challenging categorical thinking: A mixed methods approach to explaining health inequalities

“Categorical thinking” in social science research has been widely criticised by feminist scholars for conceptualising social categories as natural, de-contextualised, and internally homogeneous. This paper develops and applies a mixed-methods approach to the study of health inequalities, using social categories meaningfully in order to challenge categorical thinking. The approach is demonstrated through a case study of socio-economic (SES) inequalities in maternal healthcare access in Zambia.

This paper's approach responds to the research agenda set by intersectional social epidemiologists by considering potential heterogeneity within categories, but also by exploring the context-specific meaning of categories, examining explanations at multiple levels, and interpreting results according to mutually constitutive social processes.

The study finds that meso-level institutions, “health service environments”, explain a large share of SES inequalities in maternal healthcare access. Women's work, marital status, and levels of “autonomy” have heterogeneous implications for healthcare access across SES categories. Disadvantaged categories and their reproductive behaviours are stigmatised as 'backwards', in contrast to advantaged categories and their behaviours, which are associated with 'modernity’ and 'development’. Challenging categorical thinking has important implications for social justice and health, by rejecting framings of a specific category as problematic or non-compliant, highlighting the possibility of change, and emphasising the political and structural nature of progress.

Read the paper here.

Timing and determinants of age at menarche in low-income and middle-income countries

Introduction: Understanding the timing and determinants of age at menarche is key to determining potential linkages between onset of puberty and health outcomes from a life-course perspective. Yet, we have little information in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) mainly due to lack of data. The aim of this study was to analyse trends in the timing and the determinants of menarche in LMICs.

Methods: Using 16 World Fertility Survey and 28 Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) from 27 countries, we analysed cohort trends and used fixed-effects models for DHS surveys to investigate sociodemographic and regional effects in the timing of age at menarche.

Results: Trends of the mean age at menarche across time within and between countries show a declining or stalling path. Results of the determinant modelling show the relationship with wealth changes over time although not consistently across countries. We see a shift from poorer women having earlier menarche in earlier surveys to richer women having earlier menarche in later surveys in Indonesia, the Philippines and Yemen, while in Egypt, the reverse pattern is evident.

Conclusions: There is a considerable gap in both literature and data on menarche. We see a trend which is declining rapidly (from 14.66 to 12.86 years for the 1932 and 2002 cohorts, respectively), possibly at a faster pace than high-income countries and with a strong link to socioeconomic status. This study calls for menarche questions to be included in more nationally representative surveys and greater use of existing data because of its impact on life-course health in fast-ageing settings. Further studies will need to investigate further the use of the age at menarche as an indicator of global health.

Read the paper here

If you are interested in joining or if you have a paper which you would like to be reviewed, please contact 

For more information, you can view our guidelines here