Let's lighten up peer review: NIH

NIH needs to make life easier for everyone involved in the peer review process - a not surprising conclusion of the agency's peer review working group, which it announced today (February 21) after reviewing thousands of suggestions from stakeholders. Broadly, the recommendations include: -Reduce the administrative burden of applicants, reviewers and NIH staff: Give applicants unambiguous feedback about whether to resubmit or develop a new idea (including the option "NRR'- not recommended for r

Alison McCook
Feb 20, 2008
NIH needs to make life easier for everyone involved in the peer review process - a not surprising conclusion of the agency's peer review working group, which it announced today (February 21) after reviewing thousands of suggestions from stakeholders. Broadly, the recommendations include: -Reduce the administrative burden of applicants, reviewers and NIH staff: Give applicants unambiguous feedback about whether to resubmit or develop a new idea (including the option "NRR'- not recommended for resubmission), give all applications ratings, pilot the use of "prebuttals" from applicants so they can correct any factual errors by reviewers. In addition, the working group suggested that amended applications lose their "special status," and be considered as "new", meaning applicants no longer need to respond to or incorporate reviewers' suggestions, and reviewers no longer have to look over previous reviewers' comments. -Improve the rating system, review and reviewer quality: Shorten the application (to an as-yet-unspecified length),...
, which it announced today (February 21) after reviewing thousands of suggestions from stakeholders. Broadly, the recommendations include: -Reduce the administrative burden of applicants, reviewers and NIH staff: Give applicants unambiguous feedback about whether to resubmit or develop a new idea (including the option "NRR'- not recommended for resubmission), give all applications ratings, pilot the use of "prebuttals" from applicants so they can correct any factual errors by reviewers. In addition, the working group suggested that amended applications lose their "special status," and be considered as "new", meaning applicants no longer need to respond to or incorporate reviewers' suggestions, and reviewers no longer have to look over previous reviewers' comments. -Improve the rating system, review and reviewer quality: Shorten the application (to an as-yet-unspecified length), reduce the emphasis on preliminary data and methodological details, engage at least four reviewers per application, give reviewers incentives for participating. -Optimize support for different career stages and types, as well as different types and approaches of science: Fund more R01s for young investigators, and consider young applicants separately. -Review peer review: Not surprisingly, periodically check in to make sure the peer review system is evaluating science appropriately. These recommendations come from the Advisory Council to the Director (ACD) working group on peer review, co-chaired by Keith Yamamoto at the UCSF and Lawrence Tabak, director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Click linkurl:here;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54180/ to listen to my interview with Tabak. Last June, NIH Director Elias Zerhouni asked the scientific community to reform the way NIH reviews grant applications, creating both an internal and external working group. You can see more details about today's report, and this process, on the linkurl:Enhancing Peer Review;http://enhancing-peer-review.nih.gov/calendar.html web site. What do you think about the final version of this report? Click linkurl:here;http://www.the-scientist.com/forum/addcomment/54359/ to tell us.

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?