Perspectives on Peer Review at the NIH

In today’s New England Journal of Medicine, Richard Nakamura, the director of NIH’s Center for Scientific Review (CSR), and I published an essay titled “Reviewing Peer Review at the NIH.” As the competition for NIH research grants has become increasingly stiff, review scores often are pointed to as the reason for failure to obtain funding. Indeed, over the past few years, peer review has come under increasing scrutiny. Critics have argued that peer review fails in its primary mission – to help funding agencies make the best decisions about which projects and which investigators to support. …. Continue reading

Understanding the Capacity of NIH’s Peer Review System

My office devotes a lot of effort to evaluating its grants policies and practices. Since the introduction of the Enhancing Peer Review changes, NIH has sponsored an ongoing evaluation of peer review, involving formal surveys about the peer review process, as well as other types of analyses. We are keenly interested in your responses to our surveys, so if you receive an invitation to take a peer review survey, I hope you can find the time to respond. The importance of participating in these surveys is nicely illustrated …. Continue reading

Reminder About Your Responsibilities in Maintaining the Integrity of NIH Peer Review

Today we’d like to start with a little scenario:

Kevin is a principal investigator whose application is undergoing peer review. At a national research symposium, he bumps into one of the reviewers on the study section that is evaluating his application. What should they do or say? The answer: …. Continue reading

Supporting the Call to Peer Review Service

Last year we highlighted a new section of the NIH Data Book that provides statistics about peer review across NIH, including peer review organized by the Center of Scientific Review as well as peer review organized by NIH institutes and centers. Then, and now, these data truly demonstrate how you, our peer reviewers, are the lifeline of the scientific process. During 2014 nearly 24,000 reviewers participated in more than 2,500 peer review meetings to assess the scientific and technical merit of NIH applications, and many of those reviewers participated in multiple meetings. Your service to NIH expands our capacity to fund the best science, and provides an essential breadth of perspectives on the research projects and research training that NIH supports. In the lab and in the study section, we’re grateful for the myriad ways you work with us to advance human health and benefit the health of our nation, and the world. …. Continue reading

New Efforts to Maximize Fairness in NIH Peer Review

We want you to know NIH is working on multiple fronts to get to the bottom of unexplained racial disparities in R01 grant funding and to maximize fairness in NIH peer review. Since the problems and the solutions are bigger than NIH, we have reached out to the scientific community and other concerned citizens for help. Now armed with a team of experts and a set of new initiatives, we’d like to tell you about our efforts to address this important issues –- particularly an exciting opportunity for you to submit your input. …. Continue reading

A Change in Our Resubmission Policy

We have had much discussion on this blog about NIH’s resubmission policy (most often referred to as the NIH A2 policy). I have also heard from many of you in a variety of forums, expressing serious concerns about the impact of NIH’s resubmission policy on applicants during these times of tight funding. We’ve listened to your concerns, and we are making changes. …. Continue reading

New Data on Peer Review Across NIH

RePORT is your go-to source for NIH data, and I’m excited to let you know about a new addition to the NIH Data Book on RePORT: data on peer review across NIH. The new “NIH Peer Review” section provides information related to initial peer review across NIH. It includes data on peer review organized by the Center of Scientific Review as well as by NIH institutes and centers. …. Continue reading

More on Percentiling

Understanding NIH’s system of percentiling can be a challenge. My posts on how percentiles relate to paylines and success rates continues to get a lot of hits. A recent presentation by NIH’s Center for Scientific Review provided an example that I thought might be helpful to people trying to understand more about how a percentile is calculated for some grant applications. …. Continue reading

Another Look at Enhancing Peer Review

A critical component in assuring the efficacy of NIH’s peer review system is the continuous assessment of peer review activities, to be sure that the practices and policies uphold the core values of peer review. In fact, this continual assessment was a key component of the 2008 NIH Enhancing Peer Review Initiative. …. Continue reading