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Archive icon With the completion of the three implementation goals of the Enhancing Peer Review Initiative, this page is no longer being updated and is provided for historical information only.  For current information, visit Peer Review Policies and Practices. Archive icon

Enhancing Peer Review at NIH

Improve the Quality & Transparency of Review

Peer review must consistently identify an application’s scientific and technical merit, potential for scientific and/or public health impact, and feasibility. The Enhancing Peer Review Initiative accomplished this through:

  • Enhanced and Reordered the Review Criteria.  To increase the emphasis on overall impact, the review criteria have been enhanced and reordered.  A Side-by-Side Comparison (PDF – 62 KB) of the former and enhanced criteria for Research Project Grants is available for more details. 
  • Improved Scoring Transparency & Scale. Beginning with the summer 2009 review cycle/September Council, all applications were scored with a new 9-point scoring scale, which was selected based on the desire for a scale with sufficient range to allow reviewers to make reliable distinctions among applications. 
  • Shortened and Restructured Applications. Applications have been shortened and restructured for due dates on or after January 25, 2010.
  • Providing Criterion Scores for All Applications. Beginning with the summer  2009, review cycle/September Council, each scored review criterion received a score from all assigned reviewers.  The scores are visible in the summary statement of all applications, even those that are not discussed during the review meeting.
  • Providing Reviewers with Templates to Compose Constructive Critiques.  Beginning with the summer 2009 review meetings, reviewers will use structured critique templates to provide their comments in the form of bulleted strengths and weaknesses for each review criterion and consideration. 
  • Instructing Reviewers to Justify Overall Impact Scores.  To increase the transparency of the Overall Impact Score, reviewers are instructed to summarize factors that influenced their score and use narrative statements to justify their score. 

Scoring and Review

A new scoring system was established for applications submitted for fiscal year 2009 funding (due dates on or after January 25, 2009, and review dates in Summer 2009).  Guidance (PDF - 54 KB) was prepared to assist reviewers in their use of the new system.  Further information can be found at Scoring and Review Changes.

Restructured Applications

Shortened and restructured applications are required for all applications submitted, including those that are submitted as a resubmission application.  A detailed guide to the revised application forms and instructions is available for applicants who are preparing applications using the new application.

Related Resources

  • NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-10-050 (01/12/2010) - Clarification on the Extended Error Correction Window and Format of the Research Strategy Section for Restructured Applications Intended for Due Dates on or After January 25, 2010
  • NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-10-031 (12/17/2009) - Availability of Reissued Parent Announcements for Due Dates on or after January 25, 2010
  • NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-10-016 (11/24/2009) - Now Available: Restructured Application Forms and Instructions for Application Due Dates on or after January 25, 2010
  • NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-10-002 (10/08/2009) - Clarification on Timing and Page Limits for Restructured Application Forms and Instructions that are Required for Due Dates on or after January 25, 2010
  • NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-09-149 (09/16/2009) - Restructured Application Forms and Instructions for Submissions for FY2011 Funding
  • NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-09-024 (12/02/2008) - The NIH Announces New Scoring Procedures for Evaluation of Research Applications Received for Potential FY2010 Funding
  • NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-09-025 (12/02/2008) - The NIH Announces Enhanced Review Criteria for Evaluation of Research Applications Received for Potential FY2010 Funding
This page was last reviewed on January 12, 2011
Archive icon With the completion of the three implementation goals of the Enhancing Peer Review Initiative, this page is no longer being updated and is provided for historical information only.  For current information, visit Peer Review Policies and Practices. Archive icon
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