Jose Musacchio's commentary, entitled "Triage at NIH: A Smoke Screen Concealing The Real Problems Facing American Science" (The Scientist, Sept. 5, 1994, page 13), contains several misperceptions. While it is true that the use of triage in peer review would relieve some pressure on review staff at the National Institutes of Health, it has never been suggested, as Musacchio implies, that it would "solve the problems undermining American science."
As now applied at NIH, triage focuses on reducing time spent at review meetings by eliminating discussion on applications whose scores would fall below the committee's midpoint (50th percentile) and are unlikely to be changed by further discussion. These noncompetitive applications, however, are carefully reviewed in advance of the meeting. In fact, reviewers report spending the same amount of time evaluating applications that are ultimately deemed noncompetitive under triage as they did when triage was not used. Reviewers prepare...
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