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« Coming in April: NCBI Field Course | Main | Web of Knowledge -- a recommendation »

December 10, 2007

NIH Looks to Revise Peer Review Process to Help Young Researchers

From the Chronicle of Higher Education (12.10.07) [U of I access link]

NIH Panel Unveils Big Ideas for Revamping Peer Review and Grant Making

A committee studying ways to improve peer review and grant making at the National Institutes of Health called for major changes on Friday. They include slashing the length of grant applications and placing more weight in grant reviews on the scientific effects of the proposed research.

The working group, created by the advisory committee to NIH director Elias A. Zerhouni, also suggested providing more grants for young scientists who have never before received one. The agency should review grant proposals from such applicants separately from those of established, older investigators. The younger scientists make up a diminishing proportion of the agency's grantees, raising concerns about the future vigor of the biomedical-research work force.

In addition the working group proposed ways to improve the quality and efficiency of the NIH's peer review. One way was to require senior, established researchers to serve on the agency's review panels, which are made up largely of outside academics, as a condition of receiving certain grants. Those veterans are increasingly unwilling to volunteer because of the time commitment involved, but they possess the expertise and experience needed for quality reviews, the panel found....

One of the big changes would transform the peer-review committees of outside scientists who now review and rate applications for NIH grants, making them operate more like the editorial boards of scholarly journals. The committees, called study sections, would "outsource" grant applications to specialists in the discipline to review technical aspects. The study sections would be made up of generalists who would discuss the applications' scientific significance, broadly construed.

Further Reading:

Updated:
Read comments left at the Scientist (magazine) website about the NIH proposal.


Posted by Katie Newman at December 10, 2007 2:57 PM