Author Archive : reedbr

About   reedbr

Deputy Director

Strengthening Fellowship Review

Posted by Bruce Reed on January 6, 2022

Have you applied for, sponsored, or reviewed NIH fellowship applications? We would like to hear your thoughts on what works, what doesn’t, and how the process could be improved. National Research Service Award (NRSA) Fellowship (F) awards are intended to support training that will enhance pre- and post-doctoral trainees’ potential to develop into productive, independent research scientists. In 2021, CSR handled the review of more than 5500 of the approximately 6800 NRSA F applications received by NIH. We recently convened a CSR Advisory Council working group, charged with evaluating the fellowship review process and making recommendations to make it as effective and fair as possible for all. The working group has noted multiple concerns, many of which center around the challenges of discerning the potential of the applicant and the value of the training planned, as opposed to the general reputation of the school and sponsor. There are concerns that
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Should we keep meeting this way?

Posted by Bruce Reed on November 13, 2020

How will study sections meet in the future? NIH peer review depends on robust meetings where groups of scientists, through vigorous discussion, identify the applications of highest merit. For the last 75 years, until last March, nearly all chartered review committee meetings were held in-person. Today, in response to the pandemic, 90% of all CSR review meetings are run as video (“Zoom”) meetings. CSR is taking steps now so that when all options are back on the table, we can make informed choices about how best to convene review meetings. Last round we obtained survey responses from 3,000 NIH reviewers, ratings by scientific review officers (SRO) of 230 review meetings, compiled quantitative data comparing in-person versus Zoom instances of over 275 meetings, analyzed rosters from those meetings, and also surveyed our support staff. The data give no indication that the forced switch to Zoom has introduced major problems. Quality of
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Seeking Your Input on Simplifying Review Criteria

Posted by Bruce Reed on February 27, 2020

Over the past several years we have heard consistent concerns about the complexity of review criteria and administrative load of peer review. CSR shares the concern that the current set of standards has the unintended consequence of dividing reviewer attention among too many questions, thus reducing focus on scientific merit and increasing reviewer burden. Each element was intended make review better, but we worry that the cumulative whole may in fact distract from the main goal of review — to get input from experts on the scientific and technical merit of the proposed work. To address these concerns, CSR has convened a working group of our advisory council, charged with recommending changes to research project grant review criteria that will improve review outcomes and reduce reviewer burden. The group is co-chaired by Tonya Palermo and me, and includes some of our council members, other members of the scientific community, and
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