Quiz Yourself on Security and Confidentiality in NIH Peer Review: Rules, Responsibilities and Possible Consequences


Maintaining security and confidentiality in the NIH peer review process is essential. We would like to remind the extramural community of the federal statutes, regulations, and NIH policies regarding peer review security and confidentiality; their responsibilities for abiding by those rules; and possible actions that the NIH (in coordination with other offices) may take and consequences that may ensue from a violation of those rules. Check your knowledge with the following quiz.

True or False?

Only peer reviewers need to abide by the rules and responsibilities of maintaining security and confidentiality in peer review.

ANSWER: FALSE. Participants and stakeholders include but are not limited to:

  • Project Directors/Principal Investigators (PD/PIs), Key Personnel, and officials of applicant organizations and offerors, and others operating on their behalf; and
  • Peer reviewers (temporary and appointed) and NIH National Advisory Council (NAC) members (temporary and appointed).

True or False?

Peer reviewers can have someone on their staff, such as an assistant, log in for them, check their conflicts, and post their critiques.

ANSWER: FALSE. You may never share with anyone your government issued credentials or login for accessing secure government systems used to support NIH peer review, so sharing your Internet Assisted Review (IAR) login is prohibited.

True or False?

Peer reviewers may not share a grant application with a colleague, even if just to clarify an aspect of the application.

ANSWER: TRUE. Sharing or discussing the application or your critique with your colleagues, lab partners, students, or anyone else is not permitted.

True or False?

It is prohibited to disclose, in any manner, information about the committee deliberations, discussions, evaluations, or documents to anyone (including but not limited to a colleague, lab member, fellow, student, applicant, offeror or employee of an offeror), through any communication channel (including social media), other than as authorized during the peer review meeting.


True or False?

If the NIH determines that a situation involves a breach of integrity, including confidentiality or security, in the NIH peer review process, the NIH in coordination with other offices may take actions including, but not limited to terminating grant, cooperative agreement, fellowship or R&D contract awards to the individual’s institution.

ANSWER: TRUE. Other actions NIH could take include, but are not limited to:

  • Notifying or requesting information from an individual’s institution.
  • Terminating review service for a reviewer or NAC member.
  • Deferring or withdrawing an application submitted by the individual’s institution.
  • Notifying the NIH Office of Management Assessment (OMA) with possible referral to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for further action, which may include pursuing criminal and civil penalties as allowable by law.
  • Providing a referral for government-wide suspension or debarment.
  • Notifying other, appropriate Federal agencies.

For more details, see the full Guide Notice.

Before submitting your comment, please review our blog comment policies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.