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The Peer Review Process

After submission, your application is assigned to an NIH Institute or Center
and an Integrated Review Group
 
·         In the CSR Division of Receipt and Referral (DRR), one or more Referral Officers examine your application.  You may request in a cover letter with your application that it be assigned to a particular IC or a specific study section. The Referral Officers seriously considers such requests.
 
·         Your application will be assigned to the NIH Institute or Center (IC) best suited to fund your application should it have sufficient merit. (More than one IC may be assigned if appropriate.)
 
·         Referral Officers follow established guidelines that define the review boundaries of each Integrated Review Group (IRG) and determine the most appropriate IRG to assess your application’s scientific and technical merit.
 
·         In consultation, the IRG Chief and Scientific Review Officers (SROs) in the IRG assign your application to one of the IRG’s Study Sections (scientific review groups or SRGs). The Study Section boundaries frequently overlap, and more than one Study Section may have the expertise to review your application.
 
·         A Study Section typically includes 20 or more scientists from the community of productive researchers.  
o    The combined expertise of the scientists who serve as standing members of a Study Section is intended to span the breadth and diversity of the science within its purview.
 
o    In addition, the SRO recruits temporary reviewers and/or secures mail reviews from outside consultants to correspond to the science of the applications it reviews within each Council Cycle.  
 
Check the status of your application on the NIH eRA Commons
 
·         As soon as your application is received and assigned to a study section, information is posted to your online NIH eRA Commons account.
 
·         Information on the Commons and how to register is available on the Commons Web Site.
 
·         You may question either your study section or IC assignment by contacting the Scientific Review Officer (SRO) named in your notification or the CSR DRR (301-435-0715).
 
·         If information is not posted in your Commons account within 2 weeks of the submission date, contact the DRR office.  
 
Prior to the meeting reviewers are assigned to your application
 
·         Your SRO will analyze the content of your application, check for completeness and compliance with policies, and decide which reviewers can best evaluate it.
 
·         Reviewers have access to your application approximately 6 weeks before the Study Section meeting. Each application is assigned to three or more reviewers, and at least two of them provide written critiques. These assigned reviewers lead the discussions at the meeting.
 
·         Make sure your application is complete and correct when you submit it because there are significant limits on the kinds of post-submission information you may submit. Contact your SRO if you have questions about what is possible.
 
·         Before the Study Section meets, reviewers confidentially submit to CSR preliminary critiques. Reviewers also assign preliminary scores for each review criterion and for the overall impact of the application.
 
·         The SRO then uses the preliminary overall impact scores to order the reviews from most favorable to least favorable. Applications in the lower half are not typically discussed. This does not mean they are disapproved. Applicants may resubmit a better application after considering the critiques they receive.
 
The review meeting is convened
 
·         Study sections convene for 1 to 2 days. One member serves as chair and conducts the meeting with the SRO.
 
·         Assigned reviewers present their evaluations and mail reviews are read. After a general discussion, reviewers privately submit priority scores to CSR.
 
·         Relevant NIH program staff are encouraged to attend, but they do not participate in the evaluation.
 

The results are released to you

 

·         Within a few days after the meeting, your priority score and percentile ranking are available to you online via your NIH Commons account.
 
·         Within a month, your summary statement will be available via your NIH Commons account. It will include:
o    the written critiques provided by the assigned reviewers.
o    the SRO’s summary of the study section’s discussion.
o    preliminary scores for each review criterion.
o    study section recommendations.
o    administrative notes of special consideration.
 
·         For new investigators submitting R01 applications, the summary statements are posted within 10 days after the meeting.
·         If your application was not discussed, you will receive the reviewer critiques and preliminary scores for each review criterion.
 

The assigned NIH Institute or Center takes charge

 

·         After the review, a Program Officer in the IC to which your application has been assigned will be your main point of contact. He or she may help interpret your review results or answer questions about the further consideration of your application.
 
·         In a second level of review, the IC Advisory Council may consider the study section’s recommendations and determine the relevance of your proposed research to IC priorities and public health needs.
 
Get More Information on Peer Review at CSR
 
·          CSR Applicant Resources
 
Get General Grant Information
 
·         The NIH Office of Extramural Research Grants (OER) Web Site provides a wealth of information on funding opportunities, grant application forms, instructions, and policies.
 
·         In addition, the OER Web site provides information on the peer review policies and procedures pertaining to all NIH components that conduct peer reviews
 
·         OER operates the NIH GrantsInfo service, which can be contacted via e-mail (grantsinfo@nih.gov) or phone (301 435-0714).