No, but assignment requests made through the cover letter will not be accepted. There is also no requirement that you complete all fields in the form.
We carefully consider all information you provide in making assignments to review groups (study sections) and awarding components, in recruiting appropriate reviewers, and in managing conflicts of interest. We will try to accommodate your requests if they are appropriate and possible.
We assign applications to review groups based on the fit between published guidelines for review groups and your application. In assessing fit, we typically consider the abstract, specific aims, broader goals, and methods used. Assignment to a review group also takes into consideration conflicts of interest between key personnel on an application and members of a review group. Your suggestions made via the Assignment Request Form help us to consider the full range of factors.
We designed our review groups to have some overlap, so more than one might have the expertise to review your application. Our scientific staff make the final assignment after they carefully consider your suggestions and explanations in light of NIH policies. The review location for some applications is predetermined, such as those submitted under a request for applications (RFA).
- You can search for a CSR review group by searching for topics or using the CSR Assisted Referral Tool
- Examine recent study section rosters to gauge the scope of the group. Note that rosters change over time as we recruit reviewers based on the scientific content of the applications.
- Consider seeking guidance from an NIH Institute or Center program officer (PO). These individuals usually attend meetings of review groups and can share their insight.
- Use the NIH RePorter database to identify the study sections that reviewed successful applications in your field. Please pay attention to recent applications and be aware that our study section guidelines are regularly updated.
You can also request that your application be assigned to an awarding component you think would have the most interest in your research. It's a good idea to contact one or more program officers for guidance before you submit. You can identify NIH program officers via staff listings on NIH Institute and Center web sites. You should also look at the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) you will use to submit your application. Applications cannot be assigned to an institute or center that does not participate in the particular funding announcement.
Use the Assignment Request Form to tell us if you know of a potential reviewer who you believe could not provide an impartial review. Rosters are typically posted online 30 days before the review meeting. If you see a reviewer on it who might have a conflict of interest with your application, contact your scientific review officer (SRO) as soon as possible.
A researcher in your own field who holds a different scientific opinion is not automatically considered biased. These individuals usually provide excellent reviews because they understand the scientific issues. Your SRO will consider the situation and make the final decision. If he/she agrees that there is a conflict, the reviewer will not be assigned to your application and will not be in the room when it's discussed. (SROs will only be able to confirm that NIH policy was followed and will not be able to tell you if specific people were placed in conflict.) Learn more about NIH policy on conflicts of interest.
Use the Assignment Request Form to tell us about specific expertise needed to review your application. Do not provide names of potential reviewers.