CSR’s Commitment to Advancing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Peer Review

March 8, 2021

On March 1, NIH Director Francis Collins announced NIH’s broad-based initiative, UNITE, to end structural racism and racial inequities in biomedical science. This is a recognition of the need for urgent, sustained effort on many fronts across the research enterprise, including in all parts of the NIH’s extramural processes, to change culture. While the NIH Institutes and Centers will examine their programmatic priorities and discretionary funding practices, here at CSR, we are committed to pushing ahead with efforts to protect the peer review process from the systemic biases that exist in all areas of the scientific community.

Case Study in Review Integrity: Sharing an Application Being Reviewed

December 18, 2020

Sharing an application with anyone who has not been officially designated to participate in the peer review process is a big no-no. It undermines the integrity of peer review. It disregards the confidentiality that is required of peer reviewers, who specifically sign a confidentiality agreement before accessing the applications. And it is specifically prohibited by NIH peer review policy.

Should We Keep Meeting This Way?

November 19, 2020

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.

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

May 27, 2020

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.

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

April 21, 2020

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.

Security of Our Virtual Peer Review Meetings

April 16, 2020

CSR will conduct all summer peer review meetings using one of three platforms – 1) video; 2) telephone; 3) web-based discussion. A majority will take place using the Zoom video platform. We want to provide information about how we are maintaining the security and confidentiality of our review meetings.