Review Matters

Broadening the Reviewer Pool: A New Tool for Societies to Recommend Reviewers


May 7, 2020

Society page

CSR has launched an online portal through which scientific societies may recommend scientists to serve as NIH reviewers. This comes in response to requests from professional societies for a way to recommend potential reviewers and is part of CSR’s ongoing efforts to refresh and expand the pool of well-qualified reviewers in every area of science. This new online tool is easy to use and, by gathering key review-relevant information, makes it much more likely that scientific review officers will be able to find and invite the scientists who are recommended.

We ask that scientific societies vet reviewer qualifications before entering the recommendations. They should be scientists who are generally interested in serving as reviewers. Scientific expertise, extramural funding, and productivity are examples of qualifications. In addition, we strongly encourage societies to recommend productive scientists from diverse backgrounds and career stages – e.g. assistant, associate, and full professors. Early career scientists without substantial NIH funding should consider applying directly to our Early Career Reviewer Program for review experience. Having potential reviewers identify one or more study sections where they could serve is not required but encouraged, since it would allow scientific review officers to search for them easily.

Beyond contact information, the site requires reasonably detailed information about the scientist’s expertise and gives the option to indicate specific study sections to which they are suited. We recognize that it will require more work to gather this specific information than submitting names via email but that work should pay off. Use of this portal will ensure that we have the data we need to consider the potential reviewers. A standardized format for data submission also allows us to easily share the information with scientific review officers and to integrate it with other data sources, increasing the likelihood of reviewer recruitment from this source.

I want to acknowledge Mike Tiemeyer (Society for Glycobiology) and Brian Theil (The American Society for Cell Biology) who provided us with valuable feedback on our initial design of the portal.

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3 Comments on "Broadening the Reviewer Pool: A New Tool for Societies to Recommend Reviewers"

  1. Donna Vogel says:

    Excellent! Thank you for doing this.

  2. Dorina Avram says:

    aren’t you concern that you now create a pedigree-based reviewing system instead of allowing the right broad flexibility. Absolutely it is important to have young reviewers, assistant and associate professors, but to exclude the experienced reviewers with broad, extensive knowledge of the specific scientific field and with experience in reviewing, seems a very bad idea.

    • CSR Admin says:

      We have many ways of identifying potential reviewers. This tool provides just one more avenue. We are not excluding experienced reviewers with broad knowledge – such reviewers provide an important perspective on potential impact. In fact, we expect that many productive scientists with broad perspectives will also be involved in related scientific societies; accepting recommendations from societies will not exclude such scientists from panels.

Comments are closed.