Should We Keep Meeting This Way?

How will study sections meet in the future? NIH peer review depends on robust meetings where groups of scientists, through vigorous discussion, identify the applications of highest merit. For the last 75 years, until last March, nearly all chartered review committee meetings were held in-person. Today, in response to the pandemic, 90% of all CSR review meetings are run as video (“Zoom”) meetings. CSR is taking steps now so that when all options are back on the table, we can make informed choices about how best to convene review meetings. Continue reading

Anonymizing Peer Review for the NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award Applications

NIH is seeking applications for the 2021 Transformative Research awards through a new funding opportunity (RFA-RM-20-013) recently released on Friday, May 21, 2020. And, as a way to address concerns about bias in peer review while also enhancing diversity, this High Risk, High Reward program is going to anonymize the review of Transformative Research Award applications. Continue reading

Case Study in Review Integrity: Embellished Credentials in a Grant Application

Have you ever been tempted to embellish your credentials in a grant application? What about fabricating credentials? Would this be a case of research misconduct or a violation of review integrity? These can be costly errors, as shown by the case described below (inspired by a true story; we’ve changed details and fictionalized names). Continue reading

Temporary, Emergency Situations Due to COVID-19 and Application Scores Received During Peer Review

As we continue to address the effects of the COVID-19 public health emergency on NIH-supported research, we are aware of applicant concerns about the potential impact of this temporary emergency situation on the outcome of peer review. We want to reassure applicants that we released guidance for reviewers that makes it clear that, when reviewing applications during the coronavirus pandemic national emergency, reviewers should assume that issues resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, such as the following, should not affect scores. Continue reading

Important Reminder: Revised Deadlines for Continuous Submission

The NIH Center for Scientific Review recently updated the continuous submission policy. Among the changes are revised cut-off dates for assignment to advisory council rounds. For example, applications submitted under the continuous submission policy for the standard February and March … Continue reading

Seeking Your Input on Simplifying Review Criteria

Over the past several years we have heard consistent concerns about the complexity of review criteria and administrative load of peer review. To address these concerns, CSR has convened a working group of our advisory council, charged with recommending changes to research project grant review criteria that will improve review outcomes and reduce reviewer burden. We would like to hear your thoughts on the issue. How might review criteria be modified to obtain the best evaluations of scientific merit? Continue reading

Broadening the Pool of NIH Reviewers

The scientific peer review process benefits greatly when the study section reviewers bring not only strong scientific qualifications and expertise, but also a broad range of backgrounds and varying scientific perspectives. Bringing new viewpoints into the process replenishes and refreshes the study section, enhancing the quality of its output. Continue reading

Case Study in Review Integrity: Asking for Favorable Treatment

What happens when a former colleague contacts you, a reviewer, out of the blue to ask if the application on which he is a principal investigator could be treated favorably at the review meeting? Do you brush off the investigator and figure you will not let the contact influence your review of that application? Or do you instead immediately notify NIH? Intrigued? We have a case for you (based on true stories, details have been changed slightly and names have been fictionalized). Read on. Continue reading