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NIH Updates Timeline for New Peer Review Systems, Announces Planned Enhancements

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institutes of Health this week provided an update on several aspects of its new peer-review policy. 
In three seperate announcements, the agency updated its timeline for implementing a set of changes to its peer review system, described upcoming changes to its scoring system, and announced enhancements to its review criteria for judging applications.
The NIH began developing potential changes for the peer-review systems in 2007, and in September 2008 it announced when the new policies will take effect.
By the scheduled May 2009 review meetings, NIH will have implemented the new scoring system and enhanced review critera, as well as new formats for reviewer critiques, scoring of individual criteria, and clustering of new investigator applications during review.
At the same time, NIH will institute its Early Stage Investigator policy changes and its new policy on resubmitting applications.
In January 2010, NIH will implement shorter applications for R01 grants for 2011 funding, and restructured applications that will align with review criteria.
The new scoring plan shifts from a system that involved individual reviewers assigning scores on a one-to-five scale in .1 increments, resulting in 41 possible rating discriminations for reviewers to make. That score then was multiplied by 100, creating a score such as 253, NIH said, which gave scores an appearance of being more accurate than they were.
The new system will use a nine-point rating scale, with one being best and nine poorest, in order to create a scale with sufficient range.
The enhanced peer review criteria will take effect for potential 2010 funding, and will include a number of enhancements. Applications for this funding will be considered for overall impact in order to assess the chance that their results will exert a sustained, powerful influence on the research fields involved. These enhancements also include changes to a number of core review criteria and additional criteria.
Reviewers will consider the significance of a project, how the investigators are suited for the project, how the project challenges current research or clinical paradigms, the overall strategy, methodology and approach, and how the scientific environment may contribute to the project’s success.
Some of the other criteria reviewers will consider include protections for human subjects; the inclusion of women, minorities, and children; the involvement of live vertebrate animals; and if applications are resubmissions, renewals, or revised applications.
More information about NIH’s updated timeline is available here

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