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For Fairness

With some new initiatives, the US National Institutes of Health is attempting to address unexplained racial disparities in R01 grant funding, writes Richard Nakamura, the director of the NIH Center for Scientific Review, in a gust post at the Rock Talk blog.

"Since the problems and the solutions are bigger than NIH, we have reached out to the scientific community and other concerned citizens for help," Nakamura says.

For instance, NIH has launched two new challenges that seek ideas on how to detect and combat biases in peer review — first prize for each is $10,000.

That approach, Nakamura adds, is being complemented by surveys and focus groups asking new investigators about fairness in peer review and the challenges they face; testing the utility of anonymous peer review; examining how reviewers go about their review process for indicators of bias; and more.

"As we move forward, we will continue to seek suggestions from the scientific community on how we can do the right things to understand this important problem and maximize fairness in NIH peer review," Nakamura adds.