Peer Review Policy

In his article entitled "U.S. Research Environment Lures Canadian Scientists..." (The Scientist, May 1, 1989, page 9), Louis Siminovitch laments that persons "with less than the best qualifications" are appointed to peer review committees because of the policy of inclusion of persons from different Canadian geographical areas. According to Siminovitch, "inevitably, this means that the best scientists get shortchanged in their research funds." His prescriptions for reform include having only the

Donald Forsdyke
Aug 6, 1989
In his article entitled "U.S. Research Environment Lures Canadian Scientists..." (The Scientist, May 1, 1989, page 9), Louis Siminovitch laments that persons "with less than the best qualifications" are appointed to peer review committees because of the policy of inclusion of persons from different Canadian geographical areas. According to Siminovitch, "inevitably, this means that the best scientists get shortchanged in their research funds." His prescriptions for reform include having only the "best" scientists on review committees and narrowing the funding base, so that only the "best" are funded.

Whatever the explanation, it is inevitable that persons with "less than the best qualifications" do get on review committees. This need not be so bad as Siminovitch would have us believe. He should recognize that, even if we had the "best" on review committees, the process of deciding who is the most deserving of funding is highly error prone. If the...