Study explores effects of review setting on scientific peer review

Aug 07, 2013

Research findings published today in PLOS ONE report that the setting in which a scientific peer review panel evaluates grant applications does not necessarily impact the outcome of the review process. However, the research found that the average amount of discussion panelists engage in during the review is reduced. The investigation examined more than 1,600 grant application reviews coordinated by the American Institute of Biological Sciences Scientific Peer Advisory and Review Services (AIBS SPARS) on behalf of a federal agency over a four-year period.

The researchers compared two years when grant applications were reviewed using an in-person peer review panel to two years when panels were conducted via or .

Funding organizations routinely bring experts together to review research grant applications. A process known as scientific peer review, the goal of these panels is to identify the best research applications.

"There are no studies exploring whether the review setting significantly alters the quality of the peer review process," stated Dr. Stephen Gallo, the lead author of this study and Technical Operations Manager for AIBS SPARS.

"Our goal is always a reliable and high-quality peer-review process. It is important that we understand the strengths and weaknesses of different peer review methods," said Scott Glisson, Director of AIBS SPARS and an author of this study.

The findings appear in "Teleconference Versus Face-To-Face Scientific Peer Review of Grant Applications: Effects on Review Outcomes" published in PLOS ONE.

"Little difference was found in most of the review metrics between face-to-face and teleconference settings," said Gallo. Application scoring was only modestly affected and reviewers used the full scoring range regardless of review setting. The reviewer ratings were highly reliable in both settings.

Often, the greatest anticipated difference between in-person and teleconference panels is the amount of time allocated to discussing applications. This study found teleconference or videoconference panels allocated less time to application discussions than in-person panels.

"This is a first of its kind study that provides valuable data to help research program managers select appropriate models for conducting peer review," said Glisson.

More research is needed. "We should know whether the reduced amount of discussion and peripheral interactions that occur in a teleconference setting influence the final panel outcomes, and, ultimately the productivity of the research that is funded," said Gallo.

Explore further: History books spark latest Texas classroom battle

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Online game aims to improve scientific peer review accuracy

Nov 09, 2011

Peer review of scientific research is an essential component of research publication, the awarding of grants, and academic promotion. Reviewers are often anonymous. However, a new study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins ...

Genome assembly in the spotlight

Jul 23, 2013

The largest systematic assessment the process of genome assembly is published today in BGI and BioMed Central's open access journal GigaScience. The second Assemblaton competition saw 21 teams submit 43 entries based on dat ...

Peer review option proposed for biodiversity data

Oct 25, 2012

Data publishers should have the option of submitting their biodiversity datasets for peer review, according to a discussion paper commissioned by the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF).

Federal peer review may be overstretched and error prone

Jan 10, 2011

The federal peer review system, by which research proposals are judged worthy for funding, may be "over stretched" and "susceptible to error," said Elmer Yglesias, a researcher at the Science and Technology Policy Institute ...

Recommended for you

History books spark latest Texas classroom battle

16 hours ago

As Texas mulls new history textbooks for its 5-plus million public school students, some academics are decrying lessons they say exaggerate the influence of Christian values on America's Founding Fathers.

Flatow, 'Science Friday' settle claims over grant

17 hours ago

Federal prosecutors say radio host Ira Flatow and his "Science Friday" show that airs on many National Public Radio stations have settled civil claims that they misused money from a nearly $1 million federal ...

User comments : 0