New statistical analyses of the National Institutes of Health's peer review process suggest that the current system may be missing the mark on funding the right proposals. Reviews of as many as 25% of all proposals are biased, according to a study led by linkurl:Valen Johnson,; from MD Anderson Cancer Center to be published tomorrow (July 29) in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Johnson collected about 14,000 reviewers' scoring data on some 18,000 proposals from two reviewing sessions in 2005. He developed a statistical tool that analyzed how reviewers changed their score for each proposal once a study group of five or six reviewers had discussed each application. Johnson found that certain reviewers judged consistently harsher, for example, and may have influenced how the rest of the reviewing study section rates a proposal. Johnson also demonstrated that, based on reviewers' assessments, there isn't much difference in quality...
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