Skip Navigation
Skip Navigation
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icon With the completion of the three implementation goals of the Enhancing Peer Review Initiative, this page is no longer being updated and is provided for historical information only.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

Scoring and Review Changes

New Scoring System

Beginning with the summer 2009 review cycle, assigned reviewers have been instructed to score each of five review criteria, and the overall impact/priority of each application, on a 9-point rating scale according to the following descriptions and additional guidance:

Impact

Score

Descriptor

Additional Guidance on Strengths/Weaknesses

High

1

Exceptional

Exceptionally strong with essentially no weaknesses

2

Outstanding

Extremely strong with negligible weaknesses

3

Excellent

Very strong with only some minor weaknesses

Medium

4

Very Good

Strong but with numerous minor weaknesses

5

Good

Strong but with at least one moderate weakness

6

Satisfactory

Some strengths but also some moderate weaknesses

Low

7

Fair

Some strengths but with at least one major weakness

8

Marginal

A few strengths and a few major weaknesses

9

Poor

Very few strengths and numerous major weaknesses

Non-numeric score options: NR = Not Recommended for Further Consideration,
DF = Deferred, AB = Abstention, CF = Conflict, NP = Not Present, ND = Not Discussed

Minor Weakness:  An easily addressable weakness that does not substantially lessen impact
Moderate Weakness:  A weakness that lessens impact
Major Weakness:  A weakness that severely limits impact


Applications that are not discussed at the meeting will not be given an overall impact/priority score, but the applicant, as well as NIH staff, will see the preliminary scores for each of the review criteria as additional feedback on their summary statement. The Scoring System and Procedure document was provided as guidance to all reviewers.

Rationale for the New NIH Grant Application Scoring System

The prior scoring system of 1.0 to 5.0 in 0.1 increments served NIH well for many years, but its weaknesses became increasingly evident as the quality and quantity of applications increased and NIH budgets to fund grant applications tightened.  The new scoring system is being implemented to address the following issues:

  • For even the most experienced reviewers, it is difficult to make 41 reliable discriminations of application merit.  Based on measurement science, prior experience, and feedback from various constituencies, a 9-point rating scale with descriptors associated with each rating option was adopted.
  • Reviewer ratings became increasingly positive, compressing the score range, and effectively reducing the usefulness of scores for NIH funding decisions.  In the new scoring system, the descriptors associated with each rating were designed to encourage use of the full scoring range.
  • To provide additional feedback to applicants, program staff, and other consumers of the summary statement, assigned reviewers also provide rating of the specific review criteria using the same 9-point scale.

 

This page was last reviewed on October 22, 2009
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
skip main navigation National Institutes of Health - Transforming Health Through Discovery U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Information Page NIH Grants News and Events Research Institutes and Centers About NIH